Press release

More than one in 10 girls think that STEM careers are more suited towards boys

20 June 2018

New statistics highlight a stark difference between boys and girls, as well as other demographic groups, considering careers in STEM - with more than one in 10 girls thinking careers in the subject are more suited to boys.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) led research also found that just 26% of girls are looking to pursue a career in STEM compared to 43% of boys which could dramatically impact the diversity of fresh young talent coming into the sector.

The poll of 13-23 year-olds also showed it isn’t just girls who have fears over starting a career in STEM. Over a quarter (29%) of respondents who identified as LGBTUA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Undefined, Asexual) opted against having a career in STEM due to worries they would be discriminated against.

With International Women in Engineering Day on Saturday 23 June, the IET is now calling for action via a new video campaign designed to remove pre-conceived industry stereotypes that might be stifling young people’s career choices within STEM.

The #SmashStereotypesToBits video features five real-life female engineers turning the idea of a stereotypical ‘pillow fight’ on its head by using their skills in engineering. It aims to inspire young people to consider STEM and engineering as a career - only 12% of those surveyed said their current study of these subjects makes them want to pursue it.

Jo Foster, IET Diversity and Inclusion Manager, said: “Engineering in the UK suffers from a huge image problem. The research backs up fears that gender stereotyping within STEM careers is alive and well, potentially damaging the diversity of talent coming into the industry. This coupled with the fact that there is an estimated annual shortfall of 59,000 engineering and technicians to fill engineering roles, clearly demonstrates a need for action. 

“The IET is one of the world’s largest professional bodies to promote engineering to multiple audiences and we want to continue to utilise our position to raise awareness of this issue.  The #SmashStereotypesToBits campaign is one of the ways in which we can achieve this by flipping stereotypes on their head and spreading the message that engineering is a cool and recognised career choice for women.’’ 

The IET believes that more needs to be done to ensure that STEM is being promoted as a viable career path for everyone, a belief shared by many, with over a quarter of people (27%) surveyed for the campaign saying the responsibility lies with our teachers, and over one in 10 (14%) thinking the Government needs to step in and do more.  A further 1 in 10 believe this responsibility lies with parents.

The research also looked at the things most likely to encourage young people in considering a career in STEM with the ability to work in interesting fields (34%), the large number of job opportunities available (26%) and greater earning potential (20%) coming out on top.

To find out more about the campaign and video, please visit www.theiet.org/smashstereotypestobits


Notes to editors:

The #SmashStereotypesToBits video features IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards winners and finalists:

Dr Ozak Esu
Dr Larissa Suzuki
Nadia Johnson
Sophie Caffrey
Ellie Wilson
Nominations are still open for the 2018 YWE Awards – for more information visit https://conferences.theiet.org/ywe/index.cfm?


The research for The Institution of Engineering and Technology was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 04/06/2018 and 08/06/2018 amongst a panel resulting in 1013 respondents aged 13-23. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

Interview opportunities:

Dr Larissa Suzuki is one of the stars of the video and is available alongside the IET’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Jo Foster, for interview to chat through the research and discuss the importance of making STEM a viable career option for everyone.

Dr Larissa Suzuki, Computer Scientist  – Female Engineer, London
Jo Foster – IET Diversity and Inclusion Manager, London

Also available on request for regional interviews:

Nadia Johnson, Software Engineer Apprentice, Manchester
Ellie Wilson, Instrumentation and Control Technician, Pembrokeshire

About the IET

Looking for images to accompany your engineering stories? Use the IET’s media image library to highlight the exciting, creative and dynamic world of engineering.

Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.

The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 168,000 members in 150 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.

The IET publishes more than 30 research and letters journals and over 500 books across engineering disciplines. 

The IET’s flagship A&I database, Inspec, is globally renowned as a source of essential research in the fields of engineering, physics and computer science. 

The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.

We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.

For more information, visit www.theiet.org

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Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett

External Communications Manager

T: +44 (0)7738602426

E: hkellett@theiet.org