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With record employment and vacancy levels, the “Not Just For Boys” campaign is intended to encourage young girls and women to consider a career in an industry where they are traditionally under-represented. After just under a month, some of the UK’s and the world’s leading businesses are on board, as are schools, business women, companies such as BT, Microsoft and Diageo and organisations including Opportunity Now, the Construction Industry Training Board and Be Onsite. I could continue, but for the sake of brevity, I will sit down.
A recent OECD report made it clear that gender differences among high-performing students remain stubbornly high in science, technology, engineering and maths—the STEM subjects. In 2012, only 12% of women entering university chose to study in science-related fields, compared with 39% of men, with all that that entails for women’s long-term job security and levels of pay. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this simply underlines how incredibly important it is that campaigns such as her “Not Just For Boys” campaign should succeed?
I do indeed agree with my hon. Friend. The campaign came about after we looked at where the jobs were going to be over the next decade. There will be 12 million jobs in fields such as IT, engineering and manufacturing, yet only 7% of girls were going into those subjects, so we knew that we had to do more—hence the campaign. Businesses came on board, as did women wanting to be role models. The Department for Education should also take some credit here, because there are now 10,000 more girls studying STEM subjects at A-level than there were in 2010.