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Girls 'have lack of scientific role models'

Boys are five times more likely than girls to want to be engineers despite evidence that many girls enjoy science at school, a survey by YouGov has found.

The study was carried out to mark the new programme by EDF Energy called #PrettyCurious, which aims to change teenage girls’ perceptions of science. It also found that a third of girls in the UK aged 11 to 16 didn’t think they were smart enough to become a scientist.

The study revealed that girls had a lack of visible role models, with fewer than one in three knowing a female relative, friend or other woman that worked in a science and engineering-based job.

Within their wider sphere of influence, the girls surveyed primarily named males when asked to name an inspirational scientist, with only Marie Curie (12%) and Rosalind Franklin (1%) featuring in the top ten, after Stephen Hawking (21%) and Albert Einstein (18%).

EDF said that the #PrettyCurious programme aims to introduce teenage girls to role models they can identify with, who have varied and rewarding careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). The women featured by the programme include:

  • Liz Bonnin: biochemist, wild animal biologist & TV presenter
  • Jenny Griffiths: computer scientist, founder & CEO of fashion app SNAP Fashion
  • Florence Adepoju: cosmetic scientist and founder of makeup brand MDMflow
  • EDF Energy’s own female employees including Bethany Thomas, a reactor chemistry engineer

Bonnin said: “Both girls and boys enjoy and show great aptitude in STEM subjects at school but at some point many girls seem to disengage with them.

“There is no area of our lives that isn’t affected by science meaning that there’s a STEM subject and career out there for everyone, whether you’re analytical or more creative. It’s important that we support today’s young people, nurturing their curiosity, encouraging them to pursue their passion and find the right fit for them, so that in the future they can embark on fulfilling and exciting careers and help shape the world around them.”

EDF Energy said that as part of the #PrettyCurious programme it also aims to inspire teenage girls by creating hands-on experiences with a series of events across the UK with one-day sessions which will challenge young girls to create a life-size ‘smart’ bedroom using ‘Littlebits’ electronic kits.

For more information about the EDF Energy #PrettyCurious campaign, please visit

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