Strong role models push girls towards science and technology careers, study finds

The findings were released to coincide with Girls in ICT Day

Strong role models push girls towards science and technology careers, study finds

Image: © Microsoft 2018

A new study has said that three out of five girls in Ireland with strong role models in their lives can imagine a future career in the STEM sector.

The research from Microsoft also found 46% of girls surveyed reported an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) when inspired by a female peer, in comparison to 38% of girls who do not.

The findings were released to coincide with Girls in ICT Day.

However, it found that 42% of Irish young women with a STEM role model actually work in STEM subjects.

It suggests this shows an 'opportunity gap' to convert the passion in the classroom into a future career.

Microsoft says: "With Ireland seeking to become Europe's STEM leader by 2026, there is an urgent need to encourage more girls to become interested in technology enabled careers.

"For today, only 30% of Europe’s ICT workforce is made up of women."

Microsoft unveiled the research at an event attended by 6th class girls from three schools.

Students from St Thomas's SNS in Tallaght, Sacred Heart NS in Clondalkin and Guardian Angels NS in Blackrock had the opportunity to meet with other women working with technology.

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director at Microsoft Ireland, said: "Every young person deserves the opportunity to participate in our digital world and develop a passion for technology.

"However, we face a significant challenge in encouraging more girls to become interested in technology-related careers.

"Despite girls becoming interested in technology around the age of 11, girls start to lose interested in STEM subjects around the age of 15."

"Today’s research points towards the importance of role models in enhancing interest in STEM subjects amongst young girls and closing the gender gap in Ireland’s ICT workforce."

Microsoft has invested €5m to develop DreamSpace - a teaching and learning experience to inspire students and teachers to see technology in new ways.

The company says it is committed to bringing in 100,000 primary and Transition Year students and their teachers over the next four years.

"Students and teachers who visit will have the opportunity to experience a series of creative and innovative tasks through STEM and will leave equipped with critical collaborative, problem-solving and learning skills", it adds.