Farewell Marie Curie: Why are young women turned off STEM?

Research has shown that nearly 50 per cent of females aged 16-24 have considered a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but only 13 per cent gain employment in a STEM role.

Farewell Marie Curie: Why are young women turned off STEM?
Debut, the student and graduate careers app, carried out the research in the UK with 500 young women aged 16-24. The results revealed that even though 46 per cent of them considered a career in a STEM industry at some point, only 13 per cent actually brought that to fruition.

Turned off STEM in school

Nearly a quarter of the young women involved cited the way that STEM subjects are taught at secondary school as a turn off and one third blamed the lack of ‘real-life’ careers education for the low numbers of women in STEM careers.Charlie Taylor, Founder of Debut commented, “This research has revealed that the UK education system still has a long way to go when it comes to educating females on the positives of entering a STEM industry.“That said, schools and teachers are not the only ones accountable for inspiring the next generation – parents and employers have an important role to play.”This comes at a time when the UK is recognised as a centre of excellence for STEM – highlighted in the article British education: Delivering skills for the future in the Relocate Global Guide to Education & Schools in the UK

Mandatory STEM work experience

When asked the top three ways that secondary schools could ignite an interest in STEM careers for women, aside from making STEM subjects more interesting to learn (23 per cent) the young women involved in the research stated that STEM industry work experience should be made mandatory and ‘real life’ STEM careers education should be made available such as ‘a day in the life of’ videos.Relocate Global recently wrote about the IB Career-related Programme, (CP), which, research has shown, prepares students better for university and the workplace. The CP is an integrated package of academic study and hands-on work experience. At a time when apprenticeships have had a clear rebrand and are becoming increasingly popular, there appears that more needs to be done within schools to tie up academic learning with practical work experience.
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“It would be great to see more STEM employers going into primary and secondary schools, or better still, live streaming direct from their organisations into the classroom, to give young people an insight into what STEM careers involve. Companies would benefit from this time investment in the long-run,” said Mr Taylor.

Sending female engineers into schools

Aileen Randhawa, HR director of missiles company, MBDA UK said, “We believe that key to supporting women in engineering, is raising awareness of STEM subjects as a career option for girls and we do this by sending female engineers into schools who can explain the benefits of STEM careers to them and to the economy.“Young people love hearing about a typical day for a female engineer working for a world leader in missiles and missile systems. We have strong links with colleges and secondary schools and we are now going into primary schools where the children are inspired by technology. We want all schools to be positive and open to encourage girls to consider STEM professions.” For related news and features, visit our Enterprise section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre