Most secondary school girls face ‘confidence gap’ over science, technology and maths

Survey shows many feel there are easier ways to get CAO points than studying Stem

Amy Shovlin; Mia Conlon; Caroline Fahey; Sarah Clarke and Alicia Mason from Holy Child School in Killiney who will be attending the 2020 I WISH Showcase. Photograph: Julian Behal

Amy Shovlin; Mia Conlon; Caroline Fahey; Sarah Clarke and Alicia Mason from Holy Child School in Killiney who will be attending the 2020 I WISH Showcase. Photograph: Julian Behal

 

Many secondary school girls face an “information and confidence gap” over so-called Stem subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths, according to a new survey.

Some 64 per cent of girls say they don’t know enough about Stem , while 26 per cent of students say here are easier ways of getting CAO points than choosing to study Stem.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 3,000 girls at second level conducted by I Wish, an organisation that seeks to promote Stem careers to female students.

Caroline O’Driscoll, one of the founding members of I Wish, said that sharing information, role models and empowering girls to be confident in their choices were key to closing the gap for girls in Stem.

“Year on year, the girls tell us that they want a career where they can help other people, or change the world for the better,” said Ms O’Driscoll, who is a tax partner with Deloitte.

“Yet with 64 per cent of them telling us they do not know enough about Stem, they don’t see how Stem can facilitate that.”

Ms O’Driscoll said students were losing out, as well as the needs of the wider economy.

“We are limiting their choices, limiting their chances to follow their dreams and the world loses an extraordinary talent opportunity,” she said.

“We need to change that narrative. We need to equip teachers and students with knowledge, give them access to female role models who have blazed their own trail. We need to better empower girls, to give them the confidence and support to break down stereotypes and misconceptions, to be the generation of change.”

Ms O’Driscoll said there were “many amazing women in Stem” involved in world-changing projects who could inspire the next generation of leaders.

I Wish has been operating since 2015 and holds showcase events in Dublin and Cork.

The organisation says registration is now open for secondary schools across Ireland to attend its 2020 I Wish showcases which will take place in City Hall Cork and the RDS early next year.