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Female role models 'can prevent students from writing off science careers'

26/05/2017 Kelly

More female role models in the classroom may be needed to prevent girls from prematurely ruling out future careers in science.

This is according to a new study from the personal care brand L'Oreal, carried out as part of the Inspiring Women in Science campaign it is launching alongside the charity group Education and Employers to help foster female interest in scientific disciplines.

The survey indicated that around 55 per cent of 16 to 18-year-old full time students are not studying science, with 40 per cent of these saying this is because they do not believe these subjects would lead to a career they desire, while 29 per cent feel they lack aptitude.

The Inspiring Women in Science campaign aims to tackle these perceptions by encouraging female role models to visit UK schools and chat to primary-aged children to help inspire the next generation of scientists - particularly among girls, who are often conditioned by societal expectations to write off scientific careers.

Indeed, the L'Oreal research noted that girls are more likely than boys to listen to advice from others, with 20 per cent saying they would accept guidance in this regard from their parents, compared to only 16 per cent of boys. When considering advice from people working in their chosen fields, these percentages stood at 13 per cent and ten per cent, respectively.

Anne Lyons, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Role models from the world of work can have a big impact on children - they can help them see why the subjects they are studying matter.

"It also helps to tackle the stereotypes children have from a young age that lead them to think that certain subjects and careers are not for them."

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