In March 2015, the IET launched a campaign aimed at introducing engineering to a primary-age audience. Rather than focusing on what engineers do, they focus on what engineers are like.
The short film they’ve made uses phrases such as ‘Have you ever wondered…?’, and ‘Here’s to the day-dreamers, the distracted, the intrigued…’. We’ve already written a blog post about the video.
The research (PDF), which was carried out for the IET by Childwise, is a small-scale, mixed methods study. They used paired interviews with children and with parents in 4 different geographical locations. In total there were 32 children and 18 parents involved. This small sample size should be taken into account when drawing conclusions from the research. As well as the qualitative interviews, Childwise also conducted quantitative research using an online survey of 1007 adults and their children aged between 9 and 12.
Key findings of the research for Think Physics.
- Children (of both genders) enjoy ICT/computing, science, DT, and maths. However, girls tend to enjoy art, music and English more than STEM subjects.
- Parents and children don’t really know what sort of careers are available under the banner of ‘engineering’, and tend to default to the ‘building or fixing things’ view of engineering. Few thought about design or creativity aspects of sector. Girls were most likely to think that engineering relates only to cars.
- Parents want to support their children with career choices – and suggested more information about careers, role models and visits from engineers into school as possible ways this could happen.
Media publicity about the launch:
- Engineering and Technology magazine: Girls ‘discouraged’ to pursue engineering by parents’ perceptions.
- Huffington Post: How do we tackle outdated career stereotypes and get parents to say: ‘My daughter wants to be an engineer when she grows up’?
- Bristol Post: 62% of parents in Bristol do not feel comfortable advising their children on engineering
- Cambridge News: Cambridge parents think engineering is too physically demanding and technical, Institution of Engineering and Technology study finds
- The Guardian: Where are all the female innovators?