Meet our partners: Microsoft

Girlguiding is working with Microsoft on some exciting research about digital skills among Brownies and Guides

Microsoft and Girlguiding have joined forces to listen to girls’ views on digital technology

Through a series of focus groups, which took place during winter 2015/2016, Girlguiding members aged 7 to 14 were asked about their attitudes regarding digital skills and careers.

The findings show a tech-savvy generation of young women who are inspired by the possibilities of technology. However, more needs to be done to capture girls’ enthusiasm for ‘hands on’ technology and transform that into engagement with digital careers in the future.

This follows Girlguiding research in 2014 which shows that 56% of girls feel STEM subjects have the image of being more for boys and 42% think that girls do not enjoy such subjects as much.

A further 42% of girls feel there are too few female role models teaching STEM subjects or working in related careers (40%). 

To explore the barriers facing girls getting to grips with technology, we commissioned expert child research agency ChildWise - with support from Microsoft - to hold focus groups with our young members. We asked girls about their involvement with digital platforms, computing and coding skills - to understand more about their appetite, interest and concerns in tech.

The Girlguiding report highlights that we need to do more to inform young girls about digital careers, and at Microsoft we couldn’t agree more.
We’re proud to join forces with Girlguiding to listen to the voice of girls, and use that to improve our work engaging girls with computing, coding, and related careers. We’re also delighted to be hosting over 65 Guides at our offices in Reading for Girls in ICT Day, to get hands-on with coding and hear from senior women at Microsoft. - Theresa McHenry, Senior HR Director, Microsoft UK

What we did together

The focus groups revealed a tech-savvy generation of girls, who count digital gadgets among their favourite toys.

Despite their excitement about the possibilities of technology, some girls in the focus groups said they struggled to relate to digital skills and careers. They had concerns around personal safety and data security - and when asked about future careers, girls sometimes felt that certain technologies or roles were 'just for boys'.

Our members also had lots to say about how to break down these barriers. They wanted to see variety and creativity in the careers on offer in digital. When asked what might help girls carry on with such subjects in school, girls came up with a number of suggestions, including making lessons more interesting to girls, and increasing the number of women who teach and work STEM.

Girls should be able to feel like they can do it if they want to and it’s not just a man’s job. - Young member in focus group.
I use technology every day to communicate with friends and family but I hadn't given much thought to jobs within technology based industries as schools tend to make using computers quite boring. I think that if I learnt about jobs in technology in an interactive, imaginative and fun way, maybe I would be more interested and encouraged to find out more. - Emily Roberts, age 14, from the 1st Binfield Guides.

Going forward

With more girls than boys dropping STEM subjects throughout school, we want to explore further why this is the case and what needs to change to ensure girls feel these subjects and related careers are open to them and inspiring for them.

Support our research

Girlguiding is passionate about getting girls' voices heard. Every year, we conduct the Girls' Attitudes Survey - the UK's largest annual study into girls' opinions - and our policy and parliamentary work is shaped by Advocate, our fantastic youth panel. If you are an organisation with an interest in young people's voices and social justice, why not consider supporting our research and advocacy work?

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