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Is it fair to say that boys and girls are equal in STEM?

Published: Jun 1, 2016 2 min read

Gemma Taylor

Technology CPD Lead

National STEM Learning Centre

I think it is safe to say that the majority of people consider boys and girls as equals. Why then are girls and women so under-represented in STEM?

It can’t be denied that STEM is a very male dominated area with women making up only 14.4% of all the people who work in STEM occupations. STEM careers make up a huge amount of the jobs out there and studies have shown that with fewer and fewer students opting for further study in STEM, the future of STEM in this country relies on connecting students of both genders to the exciting employment opportunities out there.  

So what are the reasons behind this huge difference in male vs. female representation in STEM employment? Is it because girls and women simply don’t enjoy STEM subjects? 

Stemettes, an award-winning social enterprise which has reached thousands of girls since its launch in 2013, works with schools to encourage girls into STEM. Their Bentley STEM in a day impact report details the outcomes of one of their courses. It shows that on a scale of 1-5 (1 being not at all and 5 being love it) "How much do you like STEM subjects?" an average of 3.7 was the outcome.

Maybe women in STEM aren’t celebrated enough? Stemettes asked "How many women in STEM do you know?" the average response came back as 1.5. If girls on average only have one to two female STEM role models to be inspired by, clearly there are some key links missing in girls’ experiences of STEM to help them decide whether employment in this area is something for them.

To find out more about how we can provide you with support for STEM career awareness in your school, take a look at our free primary and secondary STEM careers toolkit or how teachers can get first-hand experience with ENTHUSE Partnerships