Almost a third of male teachers think Stem careers are more for boys than girls, survey finds

14th August 2017 at 00:02
Survey finds that teachers want businesses to do more to promote science, technology, engineering and maths careers in schools

Almost a third of male secondary school teachers think science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers are more for boys than girls, a survey has found.

The research highlights a gender divide among teachers and pupils when it came to careers in Stem.

The survey, carried out last month by Atomik Research for Centrica, the owner of British Gas, involved 1,401 secondary teachers and 1,063 pupils aged 14 to 18.

Among teachers, 29 per cent of men think Stem careers are more for boys than girls; 16 per cent of women feel the same.

And 29 per cent of female teachers say they are "not at all confident" in their understanding of Stem careers, compared to 15 per cent of male teachers.

Among pupils, 27 per cent of girls say Stem careers are not for them, compared to 14 per cent of boys.

And almost half of pupils, 44 per cent, say they could not think of any female role models in Stem.

Next steps in Stem

The vast majority of teachers want businesses to have a greater role in giving pupils information about Stem careers.

The survey finds that although 61 per cent of pupils say teachers are influential in helping them decide their next steps after secondary schools, 30 per cent of teachers do not feel adequately informed about all the options available to pupils.

Almost a quarter of teachers, 23 per cent, do not feel confident in their understanding of a Stem career in general.

Almost nine out of 10 teachers – 89 per cent – think businesses should play more of a role in giving pupils information on careers for when they leave school, with half in favour of talks in schools, and 26 per cent calling for open days at businesses for teachers.

And 69 per cent of teachers say they would like more information, training and guidance from business about Stem careers.

Catherine O’Kelly, industry development director at British Gas, said: “There’s a clear role and need for business to provide more support so that both teachers and students have a better understanding of the exciting options that are available through Stem careers.”

In February, a survey for the Baker Dearing Educational Trust found that almost two-thirds of young people working in science, technology and engineering careers believe that schools do not understand which skills employers are going to need.

Last month, education secretary Justine Greening said the government would set out its careers strategy in the autumn.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Growing our workforce in the Stem sectors is vital to economic growth and good quality teaching plays a key role in increasing the number of girls and boys studying Stem subjects in schools. Significant improvements have been made since 2010, including a marked increase in the number of girls studying maths and physics at A-level.

“We are building on that progress through the Stem ambassadors programme, creating a network of maths hubs and science learning partnerships to attract and hone top talent as well as investing half a billion pounds into new T-levels. We are also offering bursaries and scholarships to attract Stem graduates into teaching and support existing teachers through specialist national networks to encourage them to share best practice.”

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