A study to be published next month by Microsoft surveyed 9,500 girls and young women aged 11 to 18 in nine European countries about their attitudes toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics, referred to collectively as STEM.
In Finland, 62 percent of female teens said they see the natural sciences as important, but just 37 percent said they would consider a career in that area. The preliminary results are broadly in line with those from the triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests of math, reading and science skills in the OECD countries.
Role models needed
Satu Huotari, government affairs consultant at Microsoft Finland and coordinator of the research in Finland, says that there is a lack of good role models for young women in the fields of science and technology.
"There are already many women working in technical sectors, but for some reason youngsters don't see these fields as their own. It's important to raise the profile of these great people working in these areas now, so that they can motivate young girls," says Huotari.
Microsoft poll results suggest that Finnish girls tend to become interested in technology and science around the age of 11, slightly earlier than in other countries.
By the time they turn 14, however, most seem to have lost interest. There is again a slight blip upwards around 15, followed by a long decline. By 18, those surveyed in Finland were even less interested than their peers in other countries.
The full results and comparisons between countries will be published in February.