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Encouraging female students to take STEM subjects at A level

Hi!

I’m Steph and I’m a Sixth Form student who plans to pursue a career in engineering.

 

As the only (out of about 40 students total) female physics or further maths student in my Sixth Form, I am keen to encourage more GCSE students to take science subjects at A level. Speaking to some of them, a lot of them do not believe they are intelligent enough, even the top students in the class.

I am currently volunteering to help out with science lessons once a week but want to do more.


Does anyone have any ideas about how to encourage more students (particularly female students) to take science subjects at A level?

Thanks for any suggestions!
Parents

  • Arran Cameron:

    There are times when I wonder whether concerns about the lack of female students taking STEM subjects, as well as initiatives to encourage more to take them, verge on so called positive discrimination or even political correctness.




    Yup, they do. When a society has had a few thousand years of political incorrectness it's going to take a bit of effort to correct it. It's a PID control system, to correct an error it can require increased drive to overcome the inertia in the system. The clever bit is calibrating the system so that the effort reduces as the system approaches the set value to prevent overshoot.


    Figures from 2016 are here https://www.jcq.org.uk/Download/examination-results/a-levels/2016/entry-trends-gender-and-regional-charts-gce-2016 A pretty appalling waste of potential talent in the physics and computing figures - and indeed in the arts, sociology, psychology and communication studies figures. Attitudes and expectations are changing, but still very slowly. So let's not be ashamed of trying to knock this bonkers idea out of court that "girls can't do tech" or (maybe even insidious) "girls don't want to do tech". Make people unwelcome and they'll feel unwelcome, and when that bias exists throughout society it takes considerable extra effort to make the affected group feel welcome instead. 


    Good thing is that I've noticed that in the actual world of professional engineering there is a huge and healthy generational shift in attitude. So I'd always recommend that girls take up actual placement in engineering companies rather than taking any notice of the attitudes on engineering forums! 


    Thanks,


    Andy

Reply

  • Arran Cameron:

    There are times when I wonder whether concerns about the lack of female students taking STEM subjects, as well as initiatives to encourage more to take them, verge on so called positive discrimination or even political correctness.




    Yup, they do. When a society has had a few thousand years of political incorrectness it's going to take a bit of effort to correct it. It's a PID control system, to correct an error it can require increased drive to overcome the inertia in the system. The clever bit is calibrating the system so that the effort reduces as the system approaches the set value to prevent overshoot.


    Figures from 2016 are here https://www.jcq.org.uk/Download/examination-results/a-levels/2016/entry-trends-gender-and-regional-charts-gce-2016 A pretty appalling waste of potential talent in the physics and computing figures - and indeed in the arts, sociology, psychology and communication studies figures. Attitudes and expectations are changing, but still very slowly. So let's not be ashamed of trying to knock this bonkers idea out of court that "girls can't do tech" or (maybe even insidious) "girls don't want to do tech". Make people unwelcome and they'll feel unwelcome, and when that bias exists throughout society it takes considerable extra effort to make the affected group feel welcome instead. 


    Good thing is that I've noticed that in the actual world of professional engineering there is a huge and healthy generational shift in attitude. So I'd always recommend that girls take up actual placement in engineering companies rather than taking any notice of the attitudes on engineering forums! 


    Thanks,


    Andy

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