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February 9, 2017

Salesforce adopts ‘Eat, Sleep, STEM, Repeat’ mantra as girls shy away from ‘male’ tech careers

As STEM stereotypes continue to rise, Stemettes works to encourage young girls to deploy their interest in STEM careers.

By Hannah Williams

As STEM careers become increasingly popular, the rise of the gender gap and perception of young females that STEM is a male-based industry has also followed with. But there is another thing we all need to take into consideration- Girls can do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) too.

Research conducted by Accenture found that almost a third of young people believe that more boys choose STEM subjects than girls because they match ‘male’ careers. This perception that STEM subjects are more suited for boys is the main reason that school teachers say girls shy away from the idea of taking up these subjects.

Among the 8,500 young people, parents and teachers surveyed, 52 percent of parents and 57 percent teachers admit to having made subconscious stereotypes in relation to STEM. This shows that both parents and teachers are amongst those that believe such stereotypes.

Emma McGuigan, Senior managing director, Accenture said: “We have to address this by doing more to spark and retain girls’ interest in STEM at an early age, while expanding perceptions and demonstrating what a career or a person who works in STEM looks like beyond the traditional stereotypes.”

Figures like this should encourage parents, teachers and organisations to develop and embrace young females into STEM careers. Speaking at the Stemettes ‘Eat, sleep, STEM, repeat’ event, emphasis was made on the responsibility of parents to encourage their young daughters into STEM from home.

The panel at the event discussed that parents should be encouraging girls from a young age, which can be introduced in the form of something as little as gender neutral toys to build an understanding for females that there is no limit in working towards a STEM career – just like boys. This can then encourage girls to gain an interest in STEM subjects and careers.

Apart from parental encouragement, organisations also have a part to play in giving females an opportunity to enter STEM careers.

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Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes

Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes said: “These findings show the scope of work there is still to do. Our collaboration with fantastic companies like Accenture allows us to share the right messages to positively impact these young women across geographies. We’ll also be handling the follow-up to ensure these girls reach their potential despite wider attitudes.”

One organisation that has been working towards the empowerment and encouragement of young females into STEM is Stemettes, a social enterprise founded in 2013 to inspire and support young females into STEM. The organisation aims to encourage and educate young girls all about the possibilities in STEM careers.

 Find out what Stemettes did to encourage young females in the world of STEM on the next page.

stemettesIn 2015, it was found that only 14 percent of those working in UK’s STEM industries were women. In the journey to change this, Stemettes launched a program for young females aged 22 and under called Outbox Incubator. This enabled a selection of 115 young girls to commit to six weeks of sessions in one house to explore STEM.

An exclusive documentary shown at the ‘Eat, sleep, STEM, repeat’ event displayed how successful the session was in encouraging a group of young females about the available space for them in the STEM industry and also helping boost their confidence.

Imafidon said: “We have a lot of female talent in this country, but sometimes young girls are not aware of their own strengths. We started Outbox to give ambitious young women the tools, the confidence, the network and the skills to thrive. And the power to launch their own businesses in STEM.”

From this session, 29 start-ups were launched and since then Outbox has unveiled its own ‘OtotheB’ app, which was developed in 2016 to continually encourage young females of the world of STEM.

Programs like the above help to encourage young females to achieve their full potential.

McGuigan said: “Inspiring more girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers will not only help us to address the skills gap in science and technology, it will also help us to create a more diverse workforce that truly represents the world we live in.”

Read more:  Lack of STEM skills holding back workplace diversity & women in tech

The UK continues to face an ongoing problem with the gender skills gap as a lack of female representation and diversity in STEM careers persist. Organisations, parents and teachers need to use this as a key factor to drive the importance of getting young girls interested in STEM from a young age.

If young girls are encouraged from a young age that STEM is open to them it will be reciprocated to organisations and schools and this help to bring females into the various STEM industries, after all as Beyoncé’s song chants- who runs the world; Girls! And Girls can do STEM too!

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