Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 12th January 2022.

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Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge

What steps she is taking to increase the number of women and girls (a) studying and (b) employed in STEM subjects and jobs.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Between 2010 and 2020, under this Conservative Government, the number of women accepted on to full-time STEM undergraduate courses in the UK has increased by 49%. We are utterly committed to ensuring that more women and girls study STEM through funding programmes that boost uptake, such as the Inclusion in Schools physics programme.

Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge

Would my hon. Friend be able to let me know exactly how many women are taking up STEM apprenticeships? I ask this question specifically because the electric vehicle revolution in the west midlands is leading the way, and I am keen to see women taking up such opportunities so that they can have a long-term career in high-quality, high-paid jobs.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and I look forward to visiting the west midlands to see that with my own eyes, because apprenticeships are exactly the sort of first step on the career path we are looking to provide for our young people. Women now account for more than half of all apprenticeship starts across the country and our apprenticeships diversity champions network is working with employers across the country to make sure we see the improvement we need.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

The under-representation of women in STEM is informed by a variety of factors. What assessment have the Government made of how careers in niche areas of STEM such as photonics can be better advertised and incentivised for women?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We are always doing whatever we can to encourage more women and girls to study STEM. I am delighted to say that the number of women on full-time STEM undergraduate courses has gone up by 49% since 2010. The percentage of women on full-time STEM undergraduate courses has gone up from 34% to 42% since 2010, and A-level science entries are up 36% among girls. Girls now account for more than 50% of all science A-level entries, and women now account for over half of all STEM undergraduates. Those are significant increases since the Conservatives came to power in 2020, and I look forward to taking that from strength to strength.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

Wockhardt in Wrexham made the AstraZeneca vaccine ready, setting the scene for Wrexham to be at the forefront of opportunities. Does the Minister agree that now is the time to encourage young people, including women, into STEM opportunities, and that Wrexham, with Glyndŵr University and Coleg Cambria, is just the place to do that?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

It looks like I shall be going to Wrexham as well. I am delighted to say that, under this Government, women and girls are driving the STEM revolution that is powering the new economy.