Enthusiasm for STEM Sparks Early Amongst Girls in Asia Pacific: Mastercard ResearchFebruary 9, 2018 | Auckland
Ahead of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Mastercard research has found an encouraging number of girls and young women have a passion for STEM.
The third edition of the Mastercard STEM research surveyed more than 2,000 girls between the ages of 12-25 in the Asia Pacific region, exploring the influences that encourage or dissuade girls and young women from pursing education and career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and found over two thirds of 12 to 14-year-old girls find STEM subjects interesting (68%).
When 12 to 14-year-old girls were asked what job they wanted in the future, 22% said doctors, 20% said teachers and 18% said engineers.
Ruth Riviere, Mastercard Country Manager for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands says, ‘“The results of this latest study are encouraging but reinforce the need to inspire the next generation of female scientists, technologists and designers who clearly have a passion for these traditionally male dominated areas. Mastercard has a range of education outreach initiatives aimed at sparking and sustaining an interest in STEM amongst young girls – like Girls4Tech – to help change the gender biases and societal perceptions towards women in STEM.”
The study found 15 is the critical age when girls decided to pursue STEM or not. Although half of 15-19 year olds considered STEM related subjects when they were young, half changed their minds, and by 17-19 only 12% continued studying STEM subjects.
“The research shows 15 is a critical age for girls to determine whether they follow a STEM path, especially as they select their subjects for NCEA. This can have a significant impact on their future career, so we need to make sure we do everything to minimise barriers and ensure girls have every opportunity to pursue STEM subjects,” says Riviere.
The key reasons girls were discouraged from pursuing STEM education and career pathways was due to their learned perceptions of gender bias, and subject difficulty, despite their interest and ability in the area.
When the girls were asked what would encourage them to pursue a career in STEM, parental encouragement was considered the most important influence (49%). Support from schools and institutions (29%), having female STEM role models (36%) and scholarships (38%) are also key motivators.
“From this study it is clear that work still needs to be done. It’s important that we continue to challenge gender biases in STEM, so that more Kiwi girls and women can achieve their STEM potential, and the broader economy can benefit from a wider talent base and greater diversity in the workplace,” says Riviere.
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 National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)