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STEM Subjects: Females

Question for Department for Education

UIN 220179, tabled on 12 February 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to encourage more young women to consider entering careers in STEM.

Answered on

20 February 2019

The Government announced substantial spending commitments in the Autumn Budget 2017 on maths, digital and technical education. The Department is funding programmes to increase the take-up and better teaching of maths, science and computing in schools. These include a new £84 million programme to improve computing teaching and the advanced maths premium, to encourage more schools and colleges to teach pupils maths post 16.

The Department is committed to addressing low female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and, in particular, improving girls’ take-up of maths, computing and physics. Not all STEM subjects have a gender imbalance, and entries by girls to science A levels have increased by 14,822 (27%) comparing 2010 to 2018. However, physics take-up is notably low and the Department has invested in the Stimulating Physics Network, which has a programme dedicated to increasing the number of girls studying physics A level.

The Department will be launching a Gender Balance in Computing Pilot Programme, to identify effective interventions that schools can implement to improve girls’ take-up of computer science GCSE and A level, as part of the £84 million investment to improve teaching of computing and drive up participation in computer science.

The Department has committed to improving STEM careers advice in schools. The Government’s careers strategy asks that STEM experiences, such as with employers and apprenticeships, are built into school career programmes. The Department is also funding at least 500 Careers Leader training bursaries for schools and colleges in 2018/19 and 2019/20 and doubling the number of Careers Hubs from 20 to 40 in 2019.

The Government is also supporting the STEM Ambassadors programme, a nationwide network of over 30,000 volunteers from a wide range of employers. STEM Ambassadors, 44% of whom are women, engage with young people to increase their interest and awareness of the range of careers that STEM qualifications offer.