Three-quarters of young women put off STEM by career barriers, survey finds

The survey commissioned by QA suggests more than a half of women want to pursue STEM but are dissuaded by career barriers

A new survey suggests more than half of young women would consider a career in STEM, but more than three-quarters are put off by perceived gender barriers.

The study of more than 500 women aged 16 to 24 was commissioned by QA, a UK-based digital education and skills provider.

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Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers attract fewer women. According to the organisation Women in STEM, only 11% of jobs within STEM industries in the UK are held by women.

According to this latest survey, 53% of young women would like to pursue a career in STEM, but 78% are put off by gender inequality.

More than four in 10 respondents said the shortage of female role models was a barrier, and three in 10 said they were not confident enough to work in a male-dominated environment.

The survey also found that 37% of women feel they would not have the same opportunities as male colleagues.

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.
– Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, Stemettes

The chief executive of QA, Paul Geddes, said the findings had motivated the company to launch a new half-term educational partnership with Stemettes, a social enterprise which encourages girls and young women to pursue STEM careers.

The Stemettes Certification Academy is a new training scheme for women aged 16–20 which will be delivered at QA’s flagship training centre at St Katherine’s Dock in the City of London.

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, chief executive and co-founder of 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.

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“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.”

More information about Stemettes is available at

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