The influence of popular culture on how children perceive a career in engineering and computer science cannot be underestimated, the University's Faculty Director of Women in Engineering has warned.
Speaking on National Public Radio's Tell Me More show in the US, Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon explained to presenter Michel Martin that embedded social constructs in children's books and TV programmes – for example those that define a girl will grow up to be a nurse and a boy will be a firefighter – are a highly influential factor in discouraging girls from considering a career in technology.
She suggests this is part of the reason why, despite a rich tradition of engineering, the number of women engineers in the UK compares poorly with the rest of Europe.
Professor Rodriguez-Falcon said: "Unless we change this perception, we'll miss out on a supply of talented women engineers to help tackle issues including poverty, the environment and world health."
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