Teenage girls would much rather be models or actors than scientists or doctors, according to a new survey
Just 4% are interested in training as engineers, compared with 12% who said they
wanted to be a housewife. Only 14% are keen to be scientists, compared to almost
a third (32%) who want to be models.
Acting is the second most popular career choice (29%) according to the
survey, which questioned 506 girls aged 13 to 18.
The survey was carried out by New Outlooks in Science & Engineering (Noise),
backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The group aims
to attract more young people into science-based careers, and wants to see the
media that shape teenage mindsets show there is more to life than aspiring to
The survey also revealed that 35% of teenage girls are put off careers in
science and engineering simply because they don't know enough about them, and
one in four say these industries are not represented in the magazines and
websites they read.
The Noise campaigners, who are scientists and
engineers in the first few years of their careers, believe the findings show
that negative portrayal of their subject areas in the media is having a knock-on
effect in putting young people off pursuing careers in their disciplines.
One scheme that Noise is running to combat this allows girls interested in
maths, science or engineering to shadow a scientist at work. Young science
students also work as evangelists for their subjects on behalf of Noise.
Noise ambassador and environmental engineer, Alex McKie, says: "I love being
a scientist - it is as challenging as it is rewarding and we should be showing
girls what opportunities are out there for them."
"Girls today can be anything they want. They can pursue a career that has a
positive impact on the world in which they live, such as a climate scientist or
space mission engineer," she said.
Kathy Sykes, professor at Bristol University, is backing the campaign. She said: "Young girls want to hear about challenging careers available to them that can help them make a difference to society and the planet.
I'd love to see the media responding to the shortfall by showing more about what science and engineering, and women who have studied
them, can achieve."
Dr Alice Roberts, archaeologist on Channel 4's Time team, added: "I think that science is still sometimes seen as a dull subject
which only a small number of people fully understand.
"The reality is that scientists are brilliant, creative people, and what
could be more interesting than finding out about how the world works?"