Industry welcomes school leavers with STEM skills
Support STEM industries are crying out for female graduates and apprentices so more must be done to engage school leavers, says Emma Finamore, editor of AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk.
What types of roles do women typically go for within STEM? Should this change?
In terms of young women leaving school, the AllAboutSchoolLeavers database shows a real disparity in the STEM subjects they’re interested in pursuing. Science is the 6th most popular industry overall out of 24. Then there is a big gap until other STEM subjects: Engineering is 18th and IT & Technology 21st. Male school leavers place Engineering as their most popular industry out of 24, and all STEM subjects are in their Top 10. This is reflected when they leave school: men outnumber women by 25 to one on engineering apprenticeships, for example.
The Royal Academy of Engineering says the UK needs 100,000 new graduates in STEM subjects every year until 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers. If we want women to have jobs in the future, more need to be encouraged into STEM when making career choices.
How can we inspire younger girls into STEM?
A third of women are put off pursuing a career in STEM, according to new research, because they see it as a male-dominated industry. 23 per cent of female school leavers think men receive more support in choosing STEM careers and over 50 per cent believe female workers will not earn as much as their male peers in STEM industries.
Young people have told AllAboutSchoolLeavers that they go to parents, subject teachers and websites to find out information – so STEM employers can use this knowledge to engage with young women, promoting programmes and breaking down misconceptions. Our research also shows that work experience is important to school leavers – almost half say it is the factor most likely to persuade them to do an apprenticeship – so making these schemes welcoming to young women would encourage them into the industry.
What skillset can women bring into STEM?
Female school leavers are well equipped to embark on STEM careers. Those leaving at 16 are more likely to have good GCSE grades in relevant subjects: girls outperform boys in all but three of the 16 STEM categories. In Construction, 100 per cent of the girls entered in 2015 achieved an A*-C grade.
When it comes to A-levels, girls do better than boys in STEM subjects in terms of A*/A grades in Physics, Maths, Chemistry and Biology. In Computing and ICT the attainment advantage of girls over boys is noticeably increasing. In Applied A-level single award STEM subjects girls are in a minority of entrants but their results are significantly better than the male results.
Female school leavers have plenty to bring careers in STEM, whether that’s via apprenticeships, for example, or going on to study technical or scientific subjects at university.