#Asia Not friends, not role models: Parents play key role in influencing girls to do STEM

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A recent MasterCard report revealed what can be done to encourage girls to study and pursue STEM career

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Global financial service provider MasterCard revealed in its inaugural Girls in Tech research the factors that influenced girls’ decision to study, and eventually pursue, a career in the field of STEM — and the most important factor turns out to be parental influence.

Based on interviews that took place in December 2015 with 1,560 girls aged 12-19 across Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the results show that girls in the region overwhelmingly rated parents as the most influential (68 per cent), followed by peers (nine per cent) and teachers (eight per cent) as the next biggest influencers.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents who are currently studying STEM subjects in school also claim that they had parents and/or elder siblings in STEM-related fields, further highlighting the influence of family members’ career choice in their decision.

When it comes to the number of girls studying STEM subjects in the country, China and India came out on top with 76 per cent and 69 per cent respectively. Closely following is Singapore (63 per cent), Malaysia (59 per cent) and Indonesia (56 per cent).

Meanwhile, Australia closed the list with the shocking number of 33 per cent.

Also Read: 1-in-5 of 2016’s new tech billionaires are Chinese women

There are several reasons why girls refrain from pursuing STEM in their studies.

The top reasons are related to interest levels and performance with 40 per cent respondents thought STEM subjects are difficult to study and 32 per cent claimed to have no interest in them.

Despite their young age, the respondents are aware of existing issue in the STEM field. Twenty-one per cent of them knew that there is a problem of equal representative, and it affects their decision to pursue the career in the field. Apart from lack of interests, it is also the reason why respondents think that other girls are not pursuing STEM.

In addition, while girls recognise STEM as a financially and intellectually satisfying career, they perceive STEM subjects and careers as not being ‘creative.’

Eighty-four per cent respondents see creativity as a desirable personal trait or skill, yet when asked what traits they associate with girls in STEM, less than half (43 per cent) felt that girls in STEM have this quality.

Also Read: Asian women outpacing men in joining billionaire ranks

What can be done to encourage girls to study, and eventually pursue a career in STEM?

Apart from parental support, profiling successful women in STEM as role models also came out as the solution to encourage girls to consider STEM careers, according to 25 per cent respondents.

Financial support is also necessary with 17 per cent respondents expecting targetted scholarships, and later on, sufficient salaries once they have begin working in the field at 16 per cent.

“To get more girls interested in STEM we need to promote female role models and parents must help to build the confidence of their children. We must correct the misconception that STEM careers can’t be creative and help build that next generation of women leaders in STEM,” said Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, in an official statement.

Image Credit: Gratisography.com

The post Not friends, not role models: Parents play key role in influencing girls to do STEM appeared first on e27.

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