Engineering careers for women
Positive A Level result bodes well for girls in SET
The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology has welcomed this year’s improved A Level results, hoping the grades mean more girls will use their new qualifications to begin a career in the SET sector.
The UKRC is the leading body promoting gender equality in SET, and has an aim to improve the representation and participation of women in these fields.
The Director, Annette Williams, said: “I am delighted that so many young people and girls in particular are celebrating their A level results.
“But I hope that they now receive helpful advice and guidance that allows them to consider the fantastic careers open to them in secure jobs which pay well.
“Careers in science, engineering and technology really do help to change the world, they are well paid and offer fantastic opportunities to travel. These careers are as recession proof as can be, and are predicted to grow over the forthcoming years.”
The UKRC offers advice and help on beginning, returning to or progressing science, engineering and technology careers. This is even more important in recognition of the fact that places at university are anticipated to be harder to come by in the current economic climate, where alternative ways into SET careers may be required.
In its analysis of the results, UKRC has found that girls are achieving a higher percentage than boys of A grades in SET A levels, but not consistently across all subjects. The subjects that show the largest differences in performance are:
technology subjects where 21.3% of girls entering the exam scored an A grade compared to 15.4% of boys : a difference of 5.9 percentage points
physics: where 36.4% of girls scored an A grade compared to 30.7 % of boys : a difference of 5.7 percentage points
Information and communication technologies (ICT) : where13.3% of girls scored an A grade compared to 8.2 % of boys : a difference of 5.1 percentage points.
Only in further maths and computing did boys achieve better than girls.
However, fewer girls than boys studied SET A level subjects, apart from biology, where 57.3% of all entrants were girls.
In physics girls made up just over 20% of entrants, and in computing they were almost 10% of entrants, making their higher grade achievement even more noteworthy.
Ms Williams said: “Our figures tracked over the last five years show the participation of girls in A Level SET study is improving, but slowly.
“There is a greater number of students taking SET subjects overall, and while there are some slight falls, the overall increase in the actual number of girls has been proportionately greater than that for boys.
“This bodes well for increasing the participation of girls in careers from STEM subjects, but this will only become a reality if they can see successful routes to the top jobs.”
She added: “Overall these figures demonstrate that the most popular SET subjects are no longer monolithically ‘masculine’ at A level. The steady move towards a gender balance of students in most of these subjects, and the high success rates of the girls who attempt the exams, demonstrates both girls’ capacities to succeed in SET as well as the success over the years of the many initiatives that have encouraged and supported girls to engage with SET subjects.”
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