Parents are more likely to encourage their sons than their daughters to consider a STEM career

New research by Ipsos MORI for the Department for Education illustrates a continued gender imbalance among school pupils and their parents/carers when considering STEM jobs.

The author(s)

  • Holly Kitson Public Affairs
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Despite progress to close the gender divide, careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field remain male-dominated. New research by Ipsos MORI for the Department for Education illustrates a continued gender imbalance among school pupils and their parents/carers when considering STEM jobs.

Ipsos MORI carried out the fifth wave of the Department for Education’s Pupils and their Parents/Carers omnibus survey in July/August 2018.

Parents/carers of boys more likely to discuss STEM jobs with their child than parents/carers of girls

Gender differences were found when parents/carers were asked if they had ever discussed the possibility of a job or career in STEM with their child. Overall, 63% of parents/carers of school pupils reported having discussed the possibility of a job or career in STEM with their child. However, parents/carers of male school pupils were more likely to have discussed a STEM job or career with their child than parents/carers of female school pupils (70% compared with 56%).

STEM career choices

More boys than girls report considering a job or career in STEM

Overall, around half of school pupils (54%) reported considering a job or career in STEM when they leave education. But within this data, more boys than girls recorded they had contemplated this option: 61% of schoolboys said they have considered a STEM job or career, compared with 48% of schoolgirls.

Boys more likely to consider STEM jobs than girls

Fostering change

The Department for Education published a new careers strategy in December 2017, which included proposals for promoting gender equality by increasing young people’s contact with employers, especially in relation to STEM subjects. This resonates with these research findings, which show that school pupils were most likely to report finding ‘meeting employers from these sorts of jobs’ very or somewhat helpful (83%) in terms of understanding more about STEM careers.

DfE have also committed to increasing female participation in STEM subjects at school and have outlined several initiatives to encourage more young women into STEM careers. The Department’s proposal to improve STEM careers advice in schools  reflects the research finding that ‘information offered in careers education’ within the school environment is beneficial, with the majority of school pupils saying this had been very or somewhat helpful (82%) in contributing to an increased knowledge about STEM jobs.

Technical note

This fifth wave of the omnibus survey of pupils and their parents/carers surveyed a nationally representative sample of young people at secondary schools and colleges in England. A postal push-to-web approach was used, using the National Pupil Database (NPD) as a sampling frame for secondary school pupils (at state-funded schools), and the Individualised Learner Records (ILR) as a sampling frame for college students. In each household, two separate questionnaires were administered: one to the school pupil or college student, and one to their parent/carer. All respondents self-completed the questionnaire. Wave 5 was soft-launched to a subset of the sample on Monday 2nd July 2018. The main fieldwork began on Monday 9th July 2018, and closed for all respondents on Tuesday 28th August 2018.

The author(s)

  • Holly Kitson Public Affairs

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