Gender stereotypes threatening the digital revolution

25th January 2024
Paige West

The importance of introducing careers education in primary schools, particularly to encourage girls towards tech careers, is highlighted in a new survey.

This research, conducted for Tech She Can – a charity advocating for a higher number of women in tech careers – was unveiled at Bett, the premier edtech conference at the ExCel, London.

The survey, which involved 287 primary school teachers, reveals three crucial findings for addressing the gender gap in STEM:

STEM stereotypes are forming early, deterring girls from tech careers. A significant 71% of teachers believe that these stereotypes take root before age 11. A lack of inclusive and diverse role models in career materials is a contributing factor, with only half of the teachers finding their available materials inclusive and diverse.

The STEM aspiration gap is influenced by gender and social mobility, particularly affecting disadvantaged girls. Despite 25% of girls showing more interest in STEM subjects than boys, those in state schools are 69% less likely to aspire to STEM careers than boys.

There is a need for better career resources in primary education. While 75% of primary teachers acknowledge the importance of careers education, only 15% believe they have adequate resources to provide sufficient career experiences for their students.

Conducted by Templeton & Partners, a tech recruitment agency, the survey sought to understand the barriers to delivering STEM education and how various sectors can assist schools in guiding female students towards STEM careers.

Tech She Can commissioned this study in light of the fact that 80% of jobs in the UK now require some level of digital skills, yet women are significantly underrepresented in tech roles. This not only deprives the country of potential talent but also limits girls from accessing fulfilling careers and opportunities.

The survey underscores the necessity of early STEM career awareness to counteract stereotypes and the perception that STEM is not suitable for girls.

Sheridan Ash, Founder, and co-CEO of Tech She Can, said: “Today’s report finds that the saying, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ has never been more pertinent. Teachers overwhelmingly believe that children need real-life examples of  relatable role models and information on career paths.

“Girls are more likely to enjoy STEM subjects , but boys are more likely to believe in a tech career. “The findings of the report show that gender and social mobility have a multiplying effect on gender stereotypes surrounding careers. Education must focus on widening inclusion in both areas to understand, identify, and address all barriers preventing girls from getting into STEM, and government and business must play their part too.”

Tech She Can advocates for STEM Careers education to:

  • Begin in primary schools, equipping teachers with accessible resources that integrate technology across various curriculum areas
  • Bridge the gap between education and industry by presenting diverse and relatable real-life role models, along with a comprehensive view of career opportunities and pathways to employment
  • Engage children’s interests with dynamic and interactive lessons and materials, including animations, digital lessons, videos, games, and detailed lesson packs

Tech She Can’s educational initiative ‘Tech We Can’ is launching a series of Live Lessons to inspire pupils about technology. Designed by qualified teachers in collaboration with industry, these sessions for 7 to 14-year-olds cover AI, space exploration, and wearable tech in sports. Registrations for these educational sessions are now open at:

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