Women with Stem skills ‘lost to the economy because of A-level gender gap’

Tes reports that spending watchdog the National Audit Office calls on the Department for Education to come up with coordinated plan tackle the Stem skills problem.

A gender gap in most science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects at A level means that a number of skilled young women are “being lost to the economy”, according to a new official report.

Some of the Department for Education’s success – such as the 2.6 per cent rise in Stem take-up at A level – “masks some ongoing problems”, the government’s spending watchdog warned today.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report highlights the fact that females made up only 42 per cent of all Stem A-level entries last year – and females regularly outperform their male peers in many Stem subjects. Female A-level students made up only 9.4 per cent of entries in computing, 21.2 per cent in physics and 39 per cent in mathematics last year.

Today’s report says the DfE and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) “face a complex challenge to improve the quality of teaching and student take-up in key Stem subjects”.

It adds: “Some of their initiatives are achieving positive results but there remains an urgent need for a shared vision of what they are trying to achieve and coordinated plans across government.”

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said today: “The government faces a complex challenge in encouraging the education pipeline to produce more people with the right Stem skills.

“Some initiatives are getting positive results but there is an urgent need for the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to coordinate plans and set out what they are trying to achieve.”

Read more Women with Stem skills ‘lost to the economy because of A-level gender gap’

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