QA, one of the UK’s leading digital education and skills providers, has revealed that 53% of young women are keen to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), but that over three quarters, 78%, are put off by gender barriers.
Nearly half of women aged 16-20, 44%, feel that an insufficient number of female role models or mentors is a barrier to a STEM career, 37% of women feel that they would not have the same opportunities as a male colleague, and nearly a third, 29%, do not feel confident enough in a male dominated environment. The research, commissioned by QA, amongst 500 women aged 16-24 in the UK, also reveals that many are put off a career in STEM, as one third, 33%, believe it is too boring, 29% don’t understand what STEM careers are available and 16% felt that a STEM career is more suitable to men.
This research shows that more work needs to be done to showcase the opportunities and the value of a career in STEM, break down gender barriers and debunk outdated myths. To address the challenge, QA has joined forces with Stemettes, a social enterprise which encourages girls aged 5-25 to pursue a STEM career. As part of the first ‘Stemettes Certification Academy’, QA will offer free facilities, technology skills training and certifications to 10 young women (aged 16-20), all from a diverse set of backgrounds, but aspiring to pursue a STEM career. This initial pilot programme will take place at QA’s flagship training centre in St Katherine’s Dock, starting on 23rdOctober 2019.
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, CEO & Co-founder, Stemettes, said:
“This partnership between QA and Stemettes is a natural fit, as both organisations share a passion for empowering women to pursue careers across the STEM sector. This project is intended to debunk some of the myths that surround the tech sector and equip the young women, with specific technological knowledge – and crucially the industry-recognised certifications – they need to secure a successful and exciting career in the tech sector.
“The research shows that there is an aspiration amongst young women to pursue technology and other STEM careers. However, there are still perceived to be real barriers that are limiting UK female potential – one of these is a lack of understanding – which must be addressed. This half-term ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’ is a first important milestone in us achieving our organisational ambitions, which we’ll be widely publishing next year – to move the dial across the UK for young women and their communities, especially in Agile, Cyber and Coding skills.”
Paul Geddes, CEO, QA, said:
“Given the skills gap across the STEM sector, and the dire shortfall of women in UK STEM roles, this is an important partnership with Stemettes, for us to jointly further bridge the technology skills gap. Working with our world-class trainers on ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’, the women will be sufficiently upskilled in the latest Agile practices, with a view to supporting their technology career aspirations. Together with Stemettes, we are confident that this programme will be the first of many.”