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  • Report
  • 16th Mar 2021

Household factors and girls’ aspirations for male-dominated STEM degrees and careers

This research project investigated why girls are less likely than boys to choose STEM subjects (such as engineering, physics and maths) at university. 

Using existing survey data from a large-scale longitudinal study (Understanding Society), we used regression analysis to identify factors that are associated with the gender gap in aspirations to study these subjects. This included a range of socioeconomic and demographic variables at the parent, child and household level, plus additional variables including parenting styles and children’s self-confidence, beliefs, and career plans.

Key findings included strong relationships between mothers’ characteristics and beliefs and their daughters’ aspirations. These findings suggest mothers could play a powerful role in policy solutions to increase girls’ representation in STEM degrees and occupations.

This piece of work was part of the Gender & Behavioural Insights Programme, funded by The Government Equalities Office. Read more of the programme’s insights for equality here.

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