Another 115,000 girls need to study A-level maths or physics to close the gender gap

Around 115,000 more girls would need to study A-levels in maths or physics, or both, to achieve the same number of male and female students studying engineering and technology degrees, according to with a report.

Only 8% of first-year female undergraduates who studied maths and/or physics at A-level went on to engineering and technology degrees, compared to 23% of first-year male undergraduates who studied at least one of the subjects at A-level, suggests analysis by the charity EngineeringUK.

At the current conversion rate from A-level to undergraduate study, around 150,000 girls would need to study A-level in one or both subjects to achieve the same number of women studying engineering and technology than men – that’s an increase of around 115,000 girls. , the report suggests.

The analysis, based on Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) data on first-year undergraduate students in the UK during the 2020/21 academic year, found that only 18% of students on engineering and technology degrees were women, compared to 57% for all subjects combined.

The report – which highlights that many degrees in engineering and technology require A-levels in both maths and physics – questions whether this entry requirement should continue.

Of first-year engineering and technology undergraduates who studied both subjects at A-level, only 22% were women, the analysis found.

He says: “The need for prior knowledge is understandable, but in order to address the gender imbalance in engineering and technology, perhaps more thought needs to be given to making it more accessible to a wider range of people.” of engineering and technology courses. applicants.”

Dr Claudia Mollidor, head of research and evaluation at EngineeringUK, said: “The gender gap within undergraduate degrees in engineering and technology is a major concern.

“Given that A levels in maths and physics are prerequisites for such degrees, we need to do more to ensure these subjects are attractive and accessible to girls at school. Especially since we know that girls work as well as boys, or even do better than them, in these subjects.”

She added: “It is clear that the UK will struggle to tackle the skills shortage if it fails to increase the number of women entering engineering careers.

“The first step to tackling this is to increase girls’ interest and participation in science and maths at school.”

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