New research published today (29 September) by EDF Energy (YouGov figures) has revealed that 32% of girls in the UK aged between 11 and 16 do not think they are clever enough to become a scientist.
Despite this, however, science is named as one of the subjects that girls most enjoyed (28%) and performed best in at school (38%) over the past academic year
The study findings have been released to mark the launch of a new programme by EDF energy called #PrettyCurious. The campaign aims to change teenage girls’ perceptions of science and inspire them to pursue science-based careers
Many girls are not taking their passion and aptitude for science-based subjects beyond school and don’t see its relevance to their careers, with boys the same age five times more likely to want to pursue a career in engineering (20% compared with 4%).
In addition the report revealed that girls are unsure about what they can do with a science qualification (17%); they feel they are too creative to go into science (15%); and they believe companies who employ scientists would prefer to employ men (13%).
According to the research, young girls also have a lack of visible role models, with less than one in three (29%) knowing a female relative, friend, family friend or other women that work in a science and engineering-based job. Within their wider sphere of influence, the girls surveyed primarily named males when asked to name an inspirational scientist, with only Marie Curie (12%) and Rosalind Franklin (1%) featuring in the top ten, after Stephen Hawking (21%) and Albert Einstein (18%).
In response, EDF Energy is working with biochemist, wild animal biologist and TV presenter Liz Bonnin; Florence Adepoju, cosmetic scientist and founder of makeup brand MDMflow; and Jenny Griffiths, computer scientist, founder and ceo of fashion app SNAP Fashion; as well as its own employees, to provide inspirational role models for young girls in the UK
Fiona Jackson, Head of Strategic Resourcing at EDF Energy, said: “Science and engineering is for anyone who is curious about the world around them and how things work and who enjoys working collaboratively and creatively in a team to overcome a challenge. Our #PrettyCurious campaign will inspire girls to consider a science-based career and help to improve their career options.”
The #PrettyCurious programme will also inspire teenage girls by creating hands-on experiences and EDF Energy will pilot a series of events across the UK later this year. These one-day sessions will challenge young girls to create a life-size ‘smart’ bedroom using ‘Littlebits’ electronic kits. A digital version of these sessions will also be available for girls to access at any time from the #PrettyCurious microsite and workshops will be held at EDF Energy’s nuclear power station visitor centres across the country.
A film about the campaign will also launch online and in cinemas across the UK later this autumn.
For more information visit www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious.