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Big Kids

24th Oct 2023

New report reveals 67% of teenage girls lack crucial information about STEM careers

This research comes ahead of the 10th annual STEM Showcase event.

A new report, published by I Wish, found that 67% of teenage girls lack essential information about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The survey of 2,335 teenage girls asked Transition Year students across Ireland about what they see as barriers to a career in STEM.

It also sought to find out what these young girls felt they needed in order to access STEM college courses and what they wanted to be done as a way to address this knowledge gap.

The I Wish Report 2023 also revealed that 64% of respondents identified a lack of information on STEM college courses as a significant barrier when it comes to pursuing careers in these fields.

Meanwhile, 41% of teenage girls involved in the research felt that there needed to be more of an importance on career guidance and work-related activities during their time at school.

With that, 21% of girls admitted to never having a career guidance class, despite 97% having access to a guidance counsellor at school.

I Wish determines that these findings indicate a failure to ‘bring STEM to life for girls’, as well as opportunities to curate a better and more inclusive future through STEM.

Teenage girls responded that the ‘key values’ for entering the STEM landscape, where only one in four professionals are female, are well-paid work, the chance to make a meaningful impact, and making discoveries as key values in STEM-related careers.

Speaking on the findings, Gillian Keating, co-founder of I Wish, said the report raises questions about ‘the guidance counselling provided in some schools’.

“It’s deeply concerning that 64% of girls lack information about STEM college careers and job opportunities. We must diversify how we present STEM careers and pathways, equipping young women with the knowledge they need.”

Meanwhile, Caroline O’Driscoll, co-founder of I Wish, shared that the organisation has engaged with over 60,000 girls in the past decade and has seen substantial positive change as a result.

She says this survey plays a ‘crucial role’ in paving the way for more access and information around these careers for females.

“There has been a notable increase in female enrolment in STEM college courses, with the proportion rising from 29% in 2014 to 36% last year. Nevertheless, while significant progress is evident, there is still room for improvement.”

On February 8th, 2024, I Wish will hold its 10th annual STEM Showcase event at the RDS Dublin.

Registration for this event is open at iwish.ie/register, with approximately 3,000 female students expected to attend next year.

In order to provide access to young girls to avail of the opportunity, over 2,000 will receive free rail transport from across the country as part of a national partnership with Iarnród Éireann.

Bus Éireann will also be providing free return buses between Heuston Station and the RDS.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, responded to the findings of this I Wish 2023 report, stating that it “highlights a stark reality that a significant percentage of our young girls lack crucial information about STEM opportunities”.

“STEM fields are pathways to innovation, progress, and limitless potential. We are committed to ensuring that every young woman in our country has the knowledge and support needed to excel in STEM.”

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