MasterCard’s “Girls in Tech” research shows that despite attaining qualifications, females find it hard to succeed in their STEM careers

Singapore, 16 March 2016 – Careers in STEM are not popular amongst girls in Singapore, according to MasterCard’s inaugural “Girls in Tech” research. Despite studying STEM related subjects, girls (aged 15 – 19) in Singapore have a limited desire to pursue careers in the fields of science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) when they grow up (53 percent) compared to the regional average (72 percent). Singapore recorded the lowest score while India had the greatest interest (87 percent), followed closely by Indonesia (80 Percent). The three key reaso­ns for this are that girls in Singapore feel that they are not good enough for the job (34 percent), the perceived difficulty for females to be successful in STEM careers (30 percent), and the perception of gender bias (19 percent).

The results are based on interviews that took place in December 2015 with 1,560 girls aged 12-19 years old, across six markets[1]in Asia Pacific, of which 180 were in Singapore.

Among the countries surveyed, China (76 percent) and India (69 percent) topped the cohort with the highest percentage of girls (15 – 19 years old) currently studying STEM while Australia (33 percent) had the lowest uptake of STEM subjects. Singapore came in third at 63 percent and the remaining 37 percent were lukewarm towards STEM as a subject for their studies, lower than the regional average of 41 percent.

In understanding why girls in Singapore are not considering taking up STEM subjects in their studies, the survey revealed that the top reasons were the lack of interest in the subjects (38 percent) and the difficulty of the subjects (28 percent).

When asked about influences on their decision to study STEM subjects or pursue STEM as a career, girls in the region overwhelmingly rated parents as the most influential. This was most evident in Indonesia (90 percent), followed by Malaysia (70 percent), India (69 percent), Singapore and Australia (both at 59 percent) and China (58 percent). In Singapore, peers (13 percent) made up the next biggest source of influence, followed closely by teachers, public figures and celebrities (both at 8 percent).

The survey also found that more than half (63 percent) of the respondents in Singapore currently studying STEM subjects at school had parents and/or elder siblings in STEM-related fields, showing that family members’ career choice had a significant impact. Interestingly, the influence of parents declines with age while the influence of media and career fairs increases with age.

In addition, the survey also revealed that when girls in Singapore pursue STEM-related subjects, it is mainly due to practical reasons, such as attractive pay (45 percent), competency at the subjects (38 percent) and relevance to the future (37 percent).

When it comes to gender perception, almost half of the girls surveyed in Singapore thought that girls were less likely than boys to pursue STEM subjects for higher education (49 percent) compared to the regional average (39 percent). The respondents cited reasons such as the suitability of working conditions for girls, lower interest in STEM and the lack of encouragement in the media and society for girls to choose STEM. However, if and when they choose to pursue a STEM career, the girls in Singapore are most drawn to the healthcare & medical sectors (78 percent) followed by careers in science (74 percent).

The survey found that only 1 in 3 girls know of a female outside of their immediate family who works in STEM, and only 1 in 4 girls know of a female public-figure in the field of STEM. However, profiling successful women in STEM could address this to some extent, as girls (17-19 years old) identified this as an effective means of encouraging them to consider STEM careers (38 percent), along with targeted scholarships (14 percent) and attractive salaries (14 percent). This was echoed by girls in the other markets surveyed.

Deborah Heng, group head and general manager, MasterCard Singapore said, “MasterCard’s inaugural “Girls in Tech” research reveals that 63% of girls in Singapore are currently studying subjects in the fields of science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) but more can be done to help these girls carry their passion and knowledge to adulthood to pursue careers in STEM. More efforts to promote female role models in society together with parental support can help girls increase their interest and confidence in STEM careers, building a strong pipeline of talented female leaders in STEM.”

This research continues to add weight to MasterCard’s ongoing efforts in STEM. In 2014, MasterCard launched Girls4Tech, a signature education program that showcases MasterCard’s payment technology and engages employees as role models and mentors, in a bid to encourage more girls to pursue STEM-related subjects or careers. The hands-on, inquiry based program was created by MasterCard’s top engineers and technologists and highlights the importance of STEM subjects in both the tech and finance industries, with employees serving as mentors and role models, guiding participants through various exercises. In Asia Pacific, Girls4Tech has been launched in Australia and India, and will be rolled out to the rest of the region. Through Girls4Tech, MasterCard hopes to inspire young girls to build the skills they need in STEM to become problem solvers and the leaders of tomorrow.

Methodology

The MasterCard inaugural “Girls in Tech” research was conducted via an online survey with 1,560 girls aged 12 to 19 years old in six countries (Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) in Asia Pacific. The interviews were conducted in December 2015 with parental consent.

About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardAP and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Media Contacts
Celina Lim, Weber Shandwick, Celim@webershandwick.com , +65 6825 8075, +65 90997618
Nur Fahimah, Weber Shandwick, nurfahimah@webershandwick.com , +65 6825 8083
[1] Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore