Women in male dominated industries

20 Nov 2014
Diane Abbott MP

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to encourage increased female representation in (a) science and technology and (b) other traditionally male-dominated sectors; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by: Mr Nick Boles MP on: 27 November 2014

My Rt hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has confirmed that she wants to see improvements to the quality of careers advice and guidance available to young people. We have issued revised statutory guidance for schools, which strengthens the requirement to build links with employers to inspire and mentor students. Schools are free to determine the most appropriate forms of engagement but might consider mentoring, workplace visits, work experience and employer talks. This will be particularly helpful in addressing stereotypes about specific career paths and providing young people with inspirational role models in a range of careers.We have made significant progress in attracting more students to study science and maths at A level. Compared to 2010, we now have a thousand more girls studying physics every year and two thousand more girls studying maths. Our most recent A level results show that for the first time maths is now the most popular A level subject. The proportion of students entering A levels in biology, chemistry and physics has all increased too.However, we need to go further. The Government has reformed the national curriculum and qualifications, to ensure that they enable young people to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding to progress to further study and employment; we are recruiting top graduates into teaching by providing bursaries and scholarships in mathematics and the sciences of up to £25,000; and we are supporting schools through professional development and enrichment programmes, such as the Stimulating Physics Network and the establishment of 32 Maths Hubs.The Government is also supporting Your Life, a three-year industry-led campaign, to ensure the UK has the maths and science skills it needs to succeed in a competitive global economy. The Your Life campaign will help to inspire young people to study A level maths and physics as a gateway to exciting and wide-ranging careers, and help employers recruit and retain talent, particularly women.

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