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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Half of girls believe science and maths are ‘too difficult’ by Joe Humphreys

Follow on Twitter as @JoeHumphreys42
"Almost 30% believe STEM subjects better fit boys’ brains or boys’ personalities." according to Joe Humphreys, Education Correspondent with The Irish Times, and author of the weekly ‘Unthinkable’ philosophy column
Maria Mallin (10), EU Digital Girl of the Year 2014 Lauren Boyle (10), Paula Neary, client director at Accenture Ireland and author of the report, and Chloe McArdle (10) at the launch of the “Continuing to Power Economic Growth: Attracting more women into Science and Technology 2.0” report.
Photo: Irish Times   

Biology is the most popular science subject among both girls and young women, while physics is the least popular, according a survey which raises fresh concerns about gender stereotypes in academia.

Study by Accenture (PDF)

The study by Accenture, which explores how to attract more women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, recommends greater links between industry and schools to challenge gender-related perceptions among girls, their parents and teachers. In a survey of over 500 girls and young women, 48 per cent said science and maths were too difficult.

Asked why boys were more likely to choose STEM subjects, the same proportion of girls and young women (48 per cent) said they believed such subjects better matched “male” careers. Almost 30 per cent said such subjects “better fitted boys’ brains”or boys’ personalities and hobbies.

Asked what STEM subject they would most like to study or to have studied, girls and young women picked biology (43 per cent) first, followed by maths (39 per cent) second and computer science (38 per cent) third.

Girls aged 11-18 years were more likely to choose physics (31 per cent) than those aged 19-23 years (22 per cent), indicating some may be turned off the subject at secondary level. The study notes that 10 years ago, 47 per cent of students entering STEM courses at university were women, but this had slipped to 40 per cent in 2013. In the same year only 16 per cent of entrants into computer science were women.