A new study released by EDF Energy, to mark the launch of its #PrettyCurious campaign, has found that around a third (32%) of girls in the UK aged 11 to 16 don’t think they are smart enough to become a scientist. That’s despite science being one of the subjects they enjoyed most (28%) and performed best in at school (38%) over the past academic year.
Many girls are not taking their passion and aptitude for science-based subjects beyond school and don’t see its relevance to their careers, with boys the same age five times more likely to want to pursue a career in engineering (4% of girls compared with 20% of boys). As well as worrying they aren’t smart enough to be a scientist, other barriers for girls are revealed to be that: they are unsure what they can do with a science qualification (17%); they feel they are too creative to go into science (15%); and they believe companies that employ scientists would prefer to employ men (13%).
The study reveals young girls also have a lack of visible role models, with less than one in three (29%) knowing a female relative, friend or family friend, or other women, that work in a science and engineering-based job.
Within their wider sphere of influence, the girls surveyed primarily named males when asked to name an inspirational scientist, with only Marie Curie (12%) and Rosalind Franklin (1%) featuring in the top ten, after Stephen Hawking (21%) and Albert Einstein (18%).
October 7, 2015