What are the gender stereotypes in STEM education in Europe?

Often times, stereotypes about girls and STEM (or girls in STEM) are what hold girls back from pursuing a career in STEM or from choosing for STEM subjects in school

Stereotype 1: Women do not belong in STEM

Indeed, girls pursuing STEM careers can be seen as a threat to the traditional picture of caring woman. They are sometimes afraid to be less feminine if they pursue their STEM interest. Girls fear they might not be equally treated in STEM and have to make more effort to get the same goals as men. Moreover, girls lack role models in STEM fields: there are hardly any female scientists shown in science books.

Stereotype 2: STEM is nerdy, boring and dirty 

...and thus not interesting for girls. Girls actually have no realistic image of STEM. Beyond the lack of role models, they do not know which professions, companies and working environments are part of STEM nowadays, and what they could achieve with STEM skills. 

Stereotype 3: Girls are hard-working but have no talent for STEM

At school, there is the wide (unconscious) belief among teachers and students that girls are more hard-working, but have less talent at STEM, while boys are lazy, but more talented at STEM. There is also the belief that languages can be learnt (which is why girls are supposed to be better at languages) while STEM asks for innate talent (which is why boys are supposedly better at STEM).

> To go further, look through the detailed synthesis and visit the page Inspiring good practices in STEM education. Looking for help in terms of vocabulary? Check out the Gender4STEM glossary.



Share this page