The misconceptions held by girls on Stem subjects should be challenged since data reveals that boys usually prefer the subjects, the schools’ minister says.
The findings from the Department for Education show that the proportion of boys who say that their favourite subject is within a Stem field is nearly double that for girls.
From the survey, 59% of boys chose a Stem subject, compared with 32% of girls as a favourite.
The Stem subjects, which include science, technology, engineering and maths, has led to Nick Gibb, the schools’ minister, calling for teachers, politicians and parents to try and change the attitudes of female pupils.
‘Growing need for Stem skills’
In a statement, he said: “There’s a growing need for Stem skills, especially for sectors including manufacturing, construction and engineering, so it’s crucial that gender is not a barrier for ensuring every young person has the skills and knowledge to succeed in a dynamic and outward-looking economy.”
He said that lots of progress has been made since 2010 to boost the participation of girls in Stem subjects and the number of girls taking A-levels in Stem subjects has risen by a quarter and the number of women being accepted onto full-time undergraduate Stem courses has risen by 25%.
Mr Gibb said: “We want to continue this and it’s why we are financing programmes to boost the take-up of computing, maths and physics, and we’ve reformed the curriculum to ensure it meets employers’ needs.
“The research shows that misconceptions, however, are still prevalent and we must play a part, including teachers and parents to dispel misconceptions for these subjects and encourage future generations of scientists.”
The survey also highlights that boys are more likely to name a Stem subject is being the best to help them find a future job, with 69%, while the figure is 51% for girls.
Subjects will help them access the highest-paid jobs
However, both girls and boys agree broadly that these subjects will help them access the best paid jobs.
The survey, ‘Attitudes towards Stem subjects by gender at KS4’, has been published to coincide with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Separate research by the Home Office highlights the 60% of the jobs on its shortage list involve Stem subjects.
Also, the Employer Skills Survey carried out in 2017 found there is a strong demand for qualified and skilled professionals in engineering and IT as well as a growing need for those with statistical and complex numerical skills.