Girls’ Attitude Survey – why only 1% wanted to work in science or engineering

A well-qualified STEM workforce is crucial to business and industry in the UK. Young people need high-quality careers and guidance to illustrate the rich range of career opportunities that STEM study opens up to them.

The STEM Careers Project will contribute to improved access to STEM careers information, advice and guidance for young people both directly and through gatekeepers – careers professionals, senior leaders in schools, and teachers.

Read the viewpoint of a member of the Advocate! Youth panel:

My name’s Jessica and I’ve been a member of Girlguiding UK since I was five. This summer I joined Advocate!, Girlguiding UK’s youth panel that enables young women to input into the organisation’s research and policy work.

Girlguiding UK has just published the 2011 Girls’ Attitudes Survey, which shows that girls across the UK agree that when they’re looking for a career, they value earning potential (85% of 11-21 year olds) and a job that is interesting and satisfying (78%).

However in a last year’s study, the top career choice for girls ages 7-16 was hairdresser or beautician, while only 1% wanted to work in science or engineering. This year’s questions asked why this was: 60% think it’s because there is a lack of female role models in this sort of industry or they don’t know enough about it (43%). A significant proportion of girls believe that some jobs, like hairdressing, are more for girls’ (43%) or more for boys (27%) like engineering.

When Advocate! reviewed the results of the survey one of our recommendations was that more and better work experience should be available to allow girls (and boys) to consider a range of careers and make the best choice for them.

Personally, I could have benefited from learning more about the different options within the STEM subjects. I decided to study Chemistry at University because I loved learning about how things work and applying my knowledge to solve problems. But there were many options out there that I just hadn't heard about when I was making that choice, and there are probably still many options that I haven't heard about today.

To visit the Girlguiding UK website click here.


Posted by Heather on 20th January 2012

Careers advice in schools is terrible. I always knew I wanted to work in science or medicine but the careers advice I was offered pushed me away from both fields for no valid reason. Having missed the grades I needed in my Highers and Advanced Highers I ended up in a course I had barely researched and had little understanding of.
The entire process of careers advice is inadequate, it is up to organisations like Girlguiding UK to show girls what is out there since our schools are once again failing our young people.

Posted by Michele Jones on 3rd February 2012

The launch of the National Careers Service in April 2012 should address some of these issues. Pupils will be able to go online (in or out of school) and research relevant, up to date careers information as well as local information on apprenticeships and courses in their area.

Posted by Annette Smart, HE STEM Programme on 21st May 2012

The HE STEM Programme has now launched brand new inspirational role model case studies, exploring the personal journey of people in STEM jobs. Several are females working in different engineering jobs - not at all what you would expect. The role models are showcased using groundbreaking technology, first in the UK, at the National Space Centre, Leicester but if you can't get to NSC you can download individual profiles from . Each profile also has a bespoke list of relevant links to help young people, parents and educators get to grips with what opportunities studying STEM subjects can offer, what it all means and the processes for following through from secondary school and into university.
If you have an Apple mobile device you can download postcards and using the Look Deeper augmented reality technology you can see short clips from the films on your iPhone, iPod or iPad.
Watch our engineering rap, share it with pupils, friends, parents, teachers.
All resources are free to download and use. We hope you will be WOWed by our new materials.
I would be pleased to receive any feedback you may care to give which can inform future developments. Teachers - lobby your science centre to find out about getting the resources into their space.
Please email

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