26 April 2024
by Sarah Morgan

Girls reject science and engineering

A gender gap has been exposed in young people’s interest in engineering and science by a Royal Society survey. 

Girls are showing an aversion to STEM careers with implications for future STEM inclusivity © Photo by ThisisEngineering on Unsplash

The third Science Education Tracker (previously run in 2016 and 2019) included specific questions about engineering.

The tracker looked at the responses of 7,000 young people regarding attitudes to and experience of science education and careers.

Engineering careers are seen as creative and versatile by most school students and over half young people believe they could become an engineer if they wanted.

However, interest in engineering careers drops as students progress through school (55% of year 7 students compared to 39% of students in year 13).

For those not interested in a STEM careers, girls are more likely than boys to say this is because they don’t enjoy the subjects (57% vs 41%) and that they don’t feel they are good at them (38% vs 20%).

Only 12% of girls say being an engineer fits well with who they are compared to 38% of boys. Just 16% of girls think a career in engineering is suitable for someone like them, compared to 44% of boys. 36% of the girls surveyed say science is not for them.

The Science Education Tracker report and further information is available online. The survey was in partnership with EngineeringUK and supported by Wellcome.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK says, ‘The findings of the tracker are a serious wake-up call…government must work on ways to ensure the teaching of science, maths and computer science is more engaging for all students and builds confidence in the subjects, particularly for girls.’

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