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Student views on getting more women and girls to pursue careers in technology


Reading time: 3 minutes. Relevant event: SSAT Aspirations Show 2019


SSAT Aspirations Show workshop July 2018 report

‘Leading Change’ was the theme of the SSAT Aspirations Show at the University of East London on 6 July. One of the workshops was about getting more women and girls to pursue careers in technology. The audience were year 9 and 10 students from: Melbourn Village College, Central Foundation for Girls, The St Lawrence Academy, Sprowston Community Academy and Loxford School. A panel of five people leading change to get more women into tech told the students about tech projects that their organisations are driving, why they need more women involved and what they are doing to support this.

The 60+ year 9 students, male and female, then brainstormed in groups how they would lead the change to encourage more young women into tech-related careers. The students were encouraged by knowing that the social enterprise running the workshop, Modern Muse, would take their views to more than 40 companies that are working to encourage more girls and young women into tech careers under the umbrella of #techshecan.

Student comments on the issue of stereotypes included:

“Women feel pressured into picking subjects that are seen as more feminine due to gender stereotypes. This can change by socialising children in a different way and changing the mindset of society – men and women are both able to do the same jobs, in the same role and get equal pay.”

“It is seen as masculine; therefore, boys defend their masculinity by choosing it.”

“We need to remove stereotypes as girls may be scared off by more tech-based subjects or jobs.”

“Boys are encouraged to do tech more so need to encourage girls.”

“Push the idea that women can do what we (men) do.”

A compilation of more students’ views

General

  • Tech is portrayed as being too serious. It needs to be more fun, cool, and engaging.
  • We need to see different jobs in tech done by men and women.
  • Online games are based around boy-related themes.
  • Tech is perceived as too hard, we should teach girls that there are lots of jobs available.
  • We need to see different jobs in tech done by men and women.
  • We should educate people about the flexibility tech roles can bring for women.
  • Girls are afraid to make mistakes, we should highlight this is not a problem.
  • Bust the myth that tech attracts certain logical mindsets – autistic tendencies were highlighted.

Media

  • Change the way women are portrayed in the media, remove stereotypes.
  • Use students to amplify the message about STEM in the media and via #techshecan
  • Remove the intimidation and promote tech careers.
  • Should have posters and more advertising to break stereotypes in tech/engineering.

Schools/government

  • Tech is not [seen as] important for schools – it needs to be given more emphasis.
  • When presented with limited options for subjects, science already takes two of them so we need to change priorities for education.
  • Recruit more female teachers, most technology teachers are male, and women think they are not strong enough for the job.
  • Educate teachers to open kids’ eyes. Start young – target 10/11-year olds.
  • Need to make students more aware of job opportunities, provide better career advice and be transparent about the rewards and salaries in different industries.

Parents, guardians and influencers

  • We need programmes for parents and community influencers (older women), so they can see the benefits of tech careers.
  • Many parents pressure girls to go for more feminine jobs so we need to have education at home to change parent’s mindsets so they treat girls as equals. Get male students on board as champions/ agents of change, and to speak out.

Role models

  • Need role models: this can be done via both tech and personal engagement.
  • Girls are intimidated by the perception that tech companies are dominated by white men. Women know they can do it, but it can be overwhelming to be the only woman in the room. They need companies to demonstrate the reality and desire to change.
  • We need to see more women leaders and the different jobs in tech done by men and women.

Companies

  • They should come into schools and run fun tech activity workshops and get girls involved. They should do this consistently rather than, as now, more of a one-off event.
  • They should be tasked to hire 50% of women, and if they can’t they should have to answer why.
  • They need to start getting women into bigger roles.
  • They should have a job swap, so women see what it’s like to be in a tech role.

 SSAT Aspirations Show 2019

The SSAT Aspirations Show 2019 will help your students to feel newly inspired, set their goals and be supported to fulfil those goals. Express your interest in booking places for your students and their teachers by emailing RMTeam@ssatuk.co.uk.


Read on the SSAT blog: Aspirations Show – especially for students


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