This International Women’s Day, we’ve been looking into gender stereotypes that still exist in society and the impact they have on students’ lives. Through our student panel, we found that STEM and business subjects are still generally perceived as masculine, and alarmingly, one in four students’ subject choices have been steered by gender stereotypes. 

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we wanted to catch up with our own inspiring colleagues to find out how they #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes and lead careers in traditionally ‘masculine’ fields. 

Before we dive into what our Natives had to say, find out how to talk your students’ language and work towards overcoming gender stereotypes in your marketing. 

How can you #ChooseToChallenge?

Be more feminist in your comms

woman smiling
“This world was not going to become less sexist overnight, so I knew what had to change was me.”

- Shay Savage, Head of Sales, Net Natives

Studies by Ebiquity found that only 4% of ads today show women in leadership or professional roles and only 1% show women as funny. It’s up to your institution to be a pioneer in dismantling these antiquated views and embrace gender diversity.

In your comms and adverts, highlight how progressive and forward-thinking your institution is with imagery that doesn’t conform to typically gendered subjects or societies. Try out gender neutral branding as a starting point. 

Celebrate the achievements of your female alumni, especially in the most male-dominated subjects. Your students are at a critical stage of decision-making; their career path could be heavily influenced by the messaging they’re receiving.

Empower women

empowered women
“I co-founded a women in STEM society, with trips to schools to inspire young girls to follow science related fields. I’m now studying for my third degree in a STEM subject, having been told that I should choose something ‘more suitable for a girl’ at school.”

- Ioanna Pantelidi, Product Analyst, Net Natives

Creating a safe space where women can draw upon the strengths of other women and empathise with their struggles is essential to changing and challenging gender stereotypes. By creating this space, your students will have a space where their voices are heard. Empower your students to believe in themselves, and highlight success stories of former students who went against the gendered grain.

“Sometimes as a woman, we get a bit of pushback and if you speak up about things you get called bossy or loud, but don't be deterred - use your voice!”

- Anastasia McNaghten, Senior Account Planner

Spark curiosity 

In addition to empowering women, make sure your courses and activities reflect the inclusivity of your institution. Encourage your prospective, and current, students to engage in the debate around gender and emphasise the support available to them throughout their university journey.

Inspire your students

“Change is happening. Work hard, believe in yourself and your abilities and don't let anyone make you question yourself just because you're a woman” - Ioanna Pantelidi, Product Analyst. 

Our recent research found that two in five male and one in five female students wrongly believe that feminism promotes women’s issues over men’s issues. 

“It’s triggering for a lot of people, this eight-lettered F-word - some people hear it and immediately see red. It carries with it tales of rebellion, of ‘man-hating’, bra-burning and sexual revolution.”

- Alison Sudol, in ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies)’ by Scarlett Curtis

Make it clear that your institution aspires to be more feminist and inspire your students to rethink what ‘feminism’ means. Quash negative perceptions of anti-male movements, in exchange for aims of true gender equality. Empower your students, regardless of gender, to challenge damaging stereotypes when they see them, and to embrace diversity.

Take part in the #ChooseToChallenge movement and inspire ever-lasting change in dismantling stereotypical discourses, celebrating inclusivity and embracing feminism. For more advice on creating a more accessible, inclusive university environment, get in touch today to talk to our marketing and creative experts.

Meet the Natives

Anastasia is our Senior Account Planner. She has a BSc in Neuroscience, and wants young women to know that if you put your heart into something then you can achieve it - whether it’s STEM or anything else.  

Ioanna is our Product Analyst. Her education history is impressive; with a background in physics, a degree, a Master’s, and she’s currently studying an online Msc in computer science with data analytics alongside her day job.

Katherine is our Junior Data Analyst. She has a background in STEM subjects, with A Levels in double maths, chemistry and biology, and a degree in Zoology.

Shay is our Head of Sales, starting her sales career straight out of school. She battled with sexism and ageism in the workplace, and now proudly holds her head of department title at just 26 years old. ​

Article by


Lois King

Digital Marketing Assistant