Girls Versus Boys in STEM

The Institution of Engineering and Technology conducted a study called CHILDWISE, exploring the factors that inform parents’and childrens’perceptions of STEM-based careers, and what might be preventing children from pursuing careers in science and engineering. Research was conducted with 32 children (boys and girls) across January and February 2015.

Why do children enjoy STEM subjects?

  • They enjoy SCIENCE because it involves experiments, finding out how things work, and making things. Science is interesting, fun, creative, practical, hands-on, and exciting.
  • Children enjoy DESIGN AND ENGINEERING because they are interested in creating, designing, drawing, and building. They find out how things work, are challenged, and investigate both graphical and technological formats.
  • They enjoy TECHNOLOGY because it involves playing games, engaging in new technologies, programming in code, and understanding how things work.
  • Children enjoy MATHEMATICS because they have a natural aptitude for numbers, working things out, and solving problems. Children who enjoy math typically enjoy logical puzzles and games.
  • Why don't children enjoy STEM subjects?
  • Boys tend to dislike STEM subjects because they claim the subjects are boring.
  • Girls claim STEM subjects are hard or difficult, or say that are just not good at these subjects.
  • Research proved that girls are interested in STEM subjects but are oftentimes deterred from engaging in science subjects because of the way the information is taught. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) claim that as a society, we need to promote activities and careers that are targeted specifically at girls. IET uses sponsorships, award schemes, education initiatives, and involvement in national campaigns to hopefully create a better world for future engineers.

    Girls respond particularly well to the creative aspects of engineering once they are shown more information, including aspects of creativity and design, far more girls who enjoy Art, but are less enthusiastic about STEM subjects, are encouraged to think about an engineering career. This includes a large proportion of girls who are put off STEM subjects because they find them hard, but armed with just a little information, feel more confident in considering engineering.—Nigel Fine, Chief Executive, IET


  • Girls are more interested than boys in drawing and designing things (67% vs 46% boys).
  • Girls are also more interested than boys in editing videos and photos (37% vs 27%).
  • Boys are much more interested in gadgets and new technology (65% vs 51% of girls), making and building things (64% vs 40%), finding out how things work/are made (53% vs 34%) or computer programming (46% vs 21% of girls).
  • Broadly, boys are more motivated by understanding how things work and making things.
  • Girls are more motivated by the creative applications of technology. 
  • The findings show that children often view careers in engineering as fixing, mending, maintenance, messy, dirty and more for boys. Parents have a more positive view, describing engineering jobs as skilled, professional, paying good money, interesting, inventive, important and creative. However those with daughters are more likely to see engineering as difficult, messy and dirty. Fewer than half of parents of girls would encourage their children to consider a career in engineering, compared to two thirds of parents of boys. More than half of parents feel that engineering careers are more for boys and childrens views are largely similar.”—Nigel Fine, Chief Executive, IET

    The IET believes engineers need to work harder to make engineering appealing to the next generation –and their parents –and to convince them that it is a worthwhile and motivating career choice, particularly for girls. Data from the IET’s latest annual skills survey showed that women represent only 6% of the engineering workforce, a figure that has remained virtually static in recent years. More than 50% of girls ages 9-12 feel engineering jobs are more applicable to boys. This must be challenged if more girls are to pursue an engineering career! Brackitz are just one way to encourage your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters to play with the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering, and math.


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