Today, (15 Jan), a new study of 100,000 sixth formers by Unifrog – an online platform for university and careers advice has found that girls are taking more A levels in science, technology and mathematics but these A levels are still less popular with girls than boys, and girls are still avoiding these subjects at university.
With this in mind, Regina Moran, VP, Head of Industry Consulting and Software Solutions, EMEIA BAS, Fujitsu comments:
Although it’s promising to see girls are taking more A levels in science, technology and mathematics, it’s clear more still needs to be done to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects/roles all the way through university and into the workplace. A shortage of enrolment in university subjects could be partly due to a lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist, and quite often the flawed perception that some groups, such as women, don’t belong in STEM professions.
From policymakers to public and private organisations, and even parents, we all have a responsibility to foster interest in STEM subjects among the next generation. This is especially important when considering that Fujitsu’s latest report – ‘Technology in a Transforming Britain’ – found that only a third (37 percent) of the public believe they themselves are fully prepared for technology changes and have the skills to take advantage of the opportunities ahead. As such, it’s important that organisations across the board join forces to encourage all students—girls as well as boys—to take up STEM subjects, helping them understand the positive impact this knowledge will have on their lives and future careers.
Studying computer science can lead to a career in design for example – or even technology marketing or management of a business division. That’s why the investment into computer science pledged during the Autumn Budget back in November highlights just how high technology now is on the national agenda.
As we fast progress towards a ‘digital first’ nation we need to ensure we are investing in both girls and boys at the very beginning of the digital journey and developing the right skills to support the future digital economy. It is no longer a nice-to-have; technology is absolutely core to the future of the UK economy – particularly as we move into the age of IoT and smart cities.
The latest figures from the Higher Education Stats Authority demonstrate improvements in the number of women studying STEM subjects. The proportion of women enrolled in science subjects rose to 42% in 2016/17 compared to 41% in 2015/16.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
The latest figures show the proportion of women enrolling in science subjects at university has increased. This builds on growing numbers of girls taking STEM subjects at A level – up 17% since 2010.
We are investing significantly to ensure we have the skilled workers we need to build a Britain that’s fit for the future – a diverse STEM workforce is part of this. That’s why we are taking targeted action to improve gender participation, particularly in schools, and therefore hope to see these figures continue to improve as these students progress through the education system.