STEM Subjects

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho Conservative, East Surrey

What steps she is taking to encourage girls and young women to take up STEM subjects.

Photo of Jack Lopresti Jack Lopresti Conservative, Filton and Bradley Stoke

What steps she is taking to encourage girls and young women to take up STEM subjects.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

We continue to fund numerous programmes to increase girls’ and young women’s take-up of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. The number of girls’ STEM A-level entries has increased year on year, despite an overall reduction in cohort size. Since 2010, there has been a 31% increase in girls’ entries to STEM A-levels in England and a 34% increase in women accepted on to full-time STEM undergraduate courses in the UK.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho Conservative, East Surrey

We know that the new core maths course is highly regarded for both its accessibility and its pragmatism, and therefore it can play a huge part in increasing participation in maths. Can the Minister tell me how we are engaging with female pupils in particular to encourage them to take up this fantastic course?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

Our advanced maths support programme, worth £8 million per year, aims to increase the number of girls studying level 3 maths, which includes core maths. Out of more than 17,000 students participating in the programme’s events last year, 55% of attendees were female. We will be using research such as our behavioural insight studies to inform future work on how to get more girls studying maths after GCSE.

Photo of Jack Lopresti Jack Lopresti Conservative, Filton and Bradley Stoke

My constituency is a world-renowned centre of aerospace and defence expertise, so how can the Government help to encourage more women to take up these subjects and apprenticeships in particular so that we can equip the country and them with the skills we need for the future?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

Along with the significant measures that I have mentioned on increasing the take-up of STEM subjects among girls and women, we are also raising awareness of STEM careers through programmes such as STEM ambassadors, 45% of whom are women. The Department for Education is also taking steps to engage with the sector through apprenticeships. On aerospace specifically, we are supporting industry’s efforts to increase diversity in the sector through the women in aviation and aerospace charter, recognising that a more diverse sector is good for business, customers and workplace culture.

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Faiths, Women and Equalities)

In the UK, female employment in the technology industry stands at 16.7% and grew less than 1% in the last 10 years. This is one of the most promising and booming industries, but it is one that women hardly find themselves in. What discussion has the Minister’s Department had with her Cabinet colleagues to provide incentives for technology businesses to employ women?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

The Government take this issue very seriously. The Government Equalities Office carries out various studies to encourage women into this sector. We know that there are disparities in gender representation in some sector subject areas. Women still account for 6% and 8% of starts in construction, planning and the built environment and in engineering and engineering technologies. This is a space in which we are working very hard. We continue to consult business and I know that my Cabinet colleagues are also working on this issue.