‘Reluctant’ girls beat boys in science and engineering

Girls are beating boys in some vocational qualifications including maths, science and engineering, but are reluctant to sign up for them, research claims. This is from the Times…

A study, conducted by Pearson, of 850,000 students who took level 2 or 3 BTEC (a technical qualification equivalent to GCSE or A-level) in the past year showed that a greater percentage of girls achieved the top marks compared to boys in science subjects.

In science at level 2, (GCSE) eight per cent of girls secured a distinction, compared to four per cent of boys. In IT, 31 per cent of girls secured a distinction, compared to 21 per cent of boys.

In engineering, 37 per cent of girls were awarded a distinction, compared with 20 per cent of boys. Girls make up only five per cent of all students studying engineering at Level 2.

The data also suggests that the economic turndown appears to have encouraged more students to study vocational subjects. The researchers say that there have been large increases in the number of students studying IT, engineering and science.

Imran Khan, CEO of the British Science Association, commented: “Getting more girls and young women to engage with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) is incredibly important — and this data from Pearson shows that natural ability is clearly not the barrier to making it happen. Girls do just as well, if not better, than boys when they’re encouraged and supported in studying science and engineering.”

Belinda Parmar, CEO of Lady Geek, said: “Our research in schools has shown that the tech industry is still perceived by many girls as a ‘men’s club’dominated by ‘pizza guzzling nerds’. The image problem prevents girls studying tech related subjects and considering careers in tech.”

More at:  ‘Reluctant’ girls beat boys in science and engineering (subscription required) 

Do you agree that STEM subjects still have an image problem with girls? Have you seen or been involved in any initiatives to change this and if so what actions have you found successful, and what less so? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form 

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. MrMJHall

    SchoolsImprove Rather than saying “girls can, too”, we need to challenge how society constructs its hegemonic ideas of femininity.

  2. CarolNeild

    SchoolsImprove So what’s going wrong with the career advice bit then, to give them the confidence and interest to carry on?

  3. MakeMathsMatter

    SchoolsImprove 2 STEM ambassadors led activity Thursday, after, a girl asked are girls allowed to be engineers? Great discussion followed.

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