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Research shows that children begin to pick their career pathways at the age of nine.

Imagine your nine-year-old self – what did you want to be? At develop, we asked a few of the team and they had quite the range of careers: 

“A lawyer”
“I wanted to be a spice girl” 
“A millionaire” 
“I dreamt of being a pilot” 

And look at us now – working in marketing, recruitment, or operations. We understand how a young person’s education can influence their interests growing up, and this in turn influences their career.

This STEM Day we want to raise awareness of the gender gap in the tech industry and highlight what can be done to improve this in the future.

Gender Stereotypes 

Subconsciously, adults tell children what’s expected of them. Although it’s harmless, gender stereotypes impact everyone’s lives. This early influence on children and young people impacts higher education and therefore the talent pipeline. Globally, women make up only 3% of ICT students, 5% of maths students, and 8% of engineering, manufacturing, and construction students. 

An early start into STEM puts all young people on a level playing field before gender stereotypes have set in and this starts to prepare both girls and boys for jobs of the future. Groups such as Girls Who Code, #TechMums and MAMA.codes encourage children as young as three to explore coding and tech. 

More groups are being created every day, but more needs to be done to publicise these to children and young people.

Where are the role models? 

The STEM sector is missing out on talent, and companies need to take action in order to attract more diverse talent. Women make up only 24% of the STEM workforce, and businesses are missing out on a key talent pool by not actively recruiting for them. Think about what can you do as a business to attract more diverse talent; this will not only benefit current employees but also potential team members and future generations. 

-    Do you have networking groups internally to support diverse team members? 
-    Do you publicly champion women? 
-    How do you ensure your business is inclusive and diverse? 

In the US, a Gender Bias Without Borders Study made people aware of how gender stereotypes are reinforced by the way females are characterised in films. On-screen, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians are largely played by men, with only 12% of characters with STEM jobs on screen being women. 

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Marian Wright Edleman, children's rights activist

If young people can’t see themselves in an industry, they’re less likely to consider it for a career.

Confidence crisis 

Girls start to lose confidence in their science and mathematical abilities at the age of 12, and this is due to a fear of failure. Continually encouraging girls throughout their childhood to explore STEM subjects by exposing them to role models and experiences can build up confidence and interest. 

Further to this early confidence crisis that many young people face, research has found that 57% of women admitted to experiencing imposter syndrome, with many highlighting they feel like the ‘odd one out’. 

We’re aware that imposter syndrome impacts a lot of individuals across the globe regardless of industry. But if we look at environments where there are gender imbalances feelings of imposter syndrome are more prevalent. Studies have found that a sense of belonging nurtures confidence; the more people that you can relate to in a room, the more confident you will feel. 

The pipeline issue

It is crucial young girls aren’t put off by the prospect of a career in the sector because, as the sector burgeons, the career opportunities in tech are endless. It’s time to improve education and increase the opportunities available to all young people to show them all careers, not just what they grow up surrounded by. 

develop has recently partnered with Code/Art, to provide STEM prizes for their Code Fest competition in March 2023. Code/Art is on a mission to increase the number of girls in computer science by delighting and inspiring them with the creative possibilities of computer programming. 

We don’t want to throw money at the problem, by donating toys and resources we know we’re having a direct impact. 

In the UK, we’ve also partnered with a pre-school in our local community to provide STEM toys and resources to pupils for every placement made this financial year. Want to know more about our STEM pledge? Read our blog here. 


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