Role models vital for girls in tech, Microsoft research finds
Weblog: Girls’ interest in Stem subjects soars when they have inspirational female figures
Some 41 per cent of girls with role models report an interest in Stem subjects compared to 26 per cent of girls without one. Photograph: Naoise Culhane
Female role models have a significant impact on girls’ interest in Stem, almost doubling the reported level of interest according to new research from Microsoft. The results are from a European survey of 11,570 respondents aged between 11 and 30 from 12 European countries including Ireland and defined “role model” as inspirational women either working in science, tech and engineering or even fictional Stem characters in movies and books.
Whether looking up to inspirational peers like EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015 Niamh Scanlon, historical figures such as mother of computer programming languages Grace Hopper or astronaut Mae Jemison (who, incidentally, was inspired by Star Trek’s Lieut Uhura), 41 per cent of girls with role models report an interest in Stem subjects compared to 26 per cent of girls without one.
Encouragingly, 51 per cent of girls with strong female Stem role models can imagine themselves going in to have a career in science. Drilling down, Ireland came out on top: second to Russia, we have the highest percentage (46) of role model-inspired girls who like Stem subjects and the highest level (38) who enjoy Stem despite having no role model.