For two in three girls in APAC, parents have the most influence on whether they pursue STEM subjects in schools and their interest in STEM careers

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Singapore, 8 March 2016 – The key to attracting girls in Asia Pacific to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM-related careers lies with families, according to MasterCard’s inaugural “Girls in Tech” research. The results are based on interviews that took place in December 2015 with 1,560 girls aged 12-19 across six markets[1]in Asia Pacific.

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 (68 percent), with peers (9 percent) and teachers (8 percent) as the next biggest sources of influence. The survey also found that more than half (63 percent) of the respondents currently studying STEM subjects at school had parents and/or elder siblings in STEM-related fields, showing that family members’ career choice has a significant influence.

In understanding why girls in the region are not considering pursuing STEM subjects in their studies, the survey revealed that the top reasons were that they found these subjects difficult (40 percent) and had a lack of interest in the subjects (32 percent). Among the countries surveyed, Australia had the lowest percentage of girls (15 – 19 years old) who were studying STEM (33 percent), while China (76 percent) and India (69 percent) topped the cohort in terms of uptake of STEM subjects.

In addition, the survey found that while girls recognize that STEM as a career is financially and intellectually satisfying, they perceive STEM subjects and careers as not being ‘creative.’ 84 percent of the respondents felt that creativity was a personal trait or skill that they found extremely desirable to have, yet when asked what traits they associate with girls in STEM, less than half (43 percent) felt girls in STEM have this quality.

Profiling successful women in STEM as role models continued to resonate with girls (17-19 years old) who considered this an effective means of encouraging them to consider STEM careers (25 percent), while targeted scholarships (17 percent) and salary in STEM careers (16 percent) were also listed as being helpful in encouraging girls to strongly consider STEM careers.

Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, said, “Existing data tells us that girls are consistently underrepresented in the fields of science, tech, engineering and math (STEM), and MasterCard’s inaugural “Girls in Tech” research aims to answer the question, “why”? The study has shown that families play a key role in influencing and encouraging girls’ interest in STEM subjects and careers. The pursuit of STEM offers some of the world’s best opportunities to be involved in cutting edge innovation and technology, and encouraging more women in these fields is key to better economic success and equality for all women. To get more girls interested in STEM we need to promote female role models and parents must help to build the confidence of their children. We must correct the misconception that STEM careers can’t be creative and help build that next generation of women leaders in STEM.”

Key findings:

  • Among the countries, Australia had the lowest uptake of STEM, with only 33 percent of girls surveyed (15 to 19 year olds) currently studying STEM subjects. China (76 percent) and India (69 percent) have the highest uptake of STEM among the students.
  • The top reasons among girls (12 to 16 year olds) for not choosing to study STEM relate to interest levels and performance – girls find STEM subjects difficult to study (40 percent) and say they have little/no interest in the subjects (32 percent).
  • Girls think that other girls are not pursuing STEM primarily because of a lack of interest and an imbalance of genders in STEM careers (perception that STEM jobs tend to have more males than females working in them).
  • Close to one in five girls surveyed recognized a level of gender bias when it comes to STEM careers.
  • When considering STEM careers, the top reasons why girls are not considering STEM careers relate to ability (32 percent) and perception of gender bias (21 percent).

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
Georgette Tan, MasterCard, georgette_tan@mastercard.com, +65 6390 5971
Yong Shi Yun, Weber Shandwick, syong@webershandwick.com, +65 6825 8084

Appendix: Data

Distribution by country: Percentage of girls currently studying STEM and those currently not studying STEM (15 – 19 year olds)
 

Currently studying STEM Currently not studying STEM
Asia Pacific 59.0 41.0
Australia 33.0 68.0
China 76.0 25.0
India 69.0 31.0
Indonesia 56.0 44.0
Malaysia 59.0 41.0
Singapore 63.0 37.0

 
[1] Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore