THE poor uptake by girls of study in science, technology and engineering may be partly because parents feel ill-equipped to advise them on the new world of work.
Parents are the biggest influencers of their daughter's career choice, but could lack the knowledge to guide them into the increasing number of jobs requiring these skills, according to a new report.
Gender stereotyping remains a major obstacle to attracting more females, with many taking the view that such areas are better suited to males.
The 'Attracting More Young Women into Science and Technology' report is part of an initiative to ensure that Ireland has enough suitably qualified people to attract industries.
Hi-tech companies in Ireland and elsewhere struggle to find enough graduates, male or female, for the science and technology-based careers of the future – but women are vastly under-represented.
A government expert group estimates that 44,500 job opportunities will open for people with high-level information and communications technology (ICT) skills over the next six years and there are fears that many will go unfilled.
The report by consultants Accenture states that it is disappointing to think that a significant number of schoolgirls are closing themselves off to careers based on often outdated or incorrect perceptions.
Their research included a survey of 1,000 female students, young women, parents and teachers to understand what influences school girls' choice of subjects, in particular science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
The findings show that although parents, students and teachers are aware of the importance of STEM, established perceptions about suitability for girls and difficulty of some such subjects at Leaving Cert level act as a disincentive.
Among parents, 68pc feel 'moderately,' 'poorly' or 'very poorly' equipped to advise their daughters on STEM choices.