50,000 school age girls part ways with science and engineering every year, campaign group says

A diversity campaign group has said UK companies will soon face a ‘skills crisis’ in science, technology and engineering jobs unless the government takes action to encourage more young women to enter the sector.

Speaking at the organisation’s national conference in London, UK, the chief executive of Women in science, technology and engineering (Wise) Helen Wollaston said 50,000 young girls were lost to technology-led industries each year because they were not gaining the right qualifications. She suggested measures the government could take to reduce these early losses.

‘We are calling for action on three fronts – education, apprenticeships and industrial strategy,’ she said. ‘Ofsted should analyse the percentage of girls taking science, maths and computing after GCSE – and only give excellent ratings to schools and colleges achieving 24%. This would match the percentage of boys. Companies should be allowed to use the new apprenticeship levy to market science, technology and engineering apprenticeships to women. And the much talked about UK industrial strategy should aim to have a third of digital jobs filled by women.’

Research published by Wise last month suggests that although girls outperform boys in science subjects at GCSE level, the proportion of girls taking these subjects falls sharply after this. Only a third of girls continue to study sciences after GCSE, and just 7% go on to study technology or engineering at university.