A report published in 2015 by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) indicates that only 12.8% of the science and technology workforce is female. This is despite girls outperforming boys in nearly all science subjects at A level. It is believed that this is due to societal expectations, lack of confidence and an absence of role models.
At the age of seven, participation in sport is relatively equal between boys and girls, yet thereafter, there is a dramatic downward trend in girls' participation in sport. In a 2015 publication, Sport England suggests that only 31.8% of girls participate in weekly sport. This is thought to be due to the development of body conscious issues, a lack of female sporting role models and a growing awareness in girls that boys think they are less able at sport.
Numerous recent studies (for example, McKinsey, 2010; Catalyst 2007; Thomson Reuters, 2012) demonstrate a link between more balanced gender distribution in a company’s management and its profitability, yet women only have 26% representation on the boards of FTSE100 companies. A study conducted by the Fawcett Society found that 51% of women and men from middle management to director level identify stereotyping as the major hurdle facing women at work.
We aim to develop digital learning for both boys and girls to educate about issues associated with gender equality in the workforce and sport and to actively encourage girls towards careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business and also to participate in sport. We aim to address the under-representation of girls and women in science and technology careers, business and also sport.
Through digital learning resources, both girls and boys will learn in an age-appropriate way about the history of gender inequality and steps that have been taken in more recent years to overcome it and how boys and girls can work together to ensure equal opportunities and rights. In recent years 'like a girl' has become a derogatory term, and this project hopes to turn this back into a positive phrase.
Additionally, girls will be exposed to aspirational and inspirational stories of women who have achieved in:
They will also be provided with online career advice for associated professions.
Each digital learning resource includes an in-built anonymous evaluation to gather thoughts about gender equality prior to commencing the resource and on completion. This provides an indication of short-term impact. Online questionnaires are distributed to teachers to gather their additional perspective on impact based on classroom discussions held in relation to the resource use. We also hope to conduct some longitudinal studies in schools using these resources to see whether the resources are having an impact on the uptake of sport, science and business subjects at school.