About 115,000 girls would need to study A-levels in math or physics, or both, to reach an equal number of male and female students studying engineering and technology degrees, a report found.
Only 8% of first-year undergraduate women who had studied A-level mathematics and/or physics went on to study engineering and technology, compared with 23% of first-year undergraduate men who took at least one of the subjects to A-level, suggests an analysis by charity EngineeringUK.
With the current conversion rate from A-Levels to undergraduate studies, approximately 150,000 girls would need to be studying A-Levels in one or both subjects to reach the same number of women studying engineering and technology as men – representing an increase of approximately 115,000 girls. suggests the report.
The analysis, which is based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) of first-year students in the UK during the 2020/21 academic year, found that only 18% of students with engineering and technology degrees were female, compared with 57% for all subjects together.
The report – highlighting that the requirement for many degrees in engineering and technology is an A-level in both math and physics – questions whether this entry requirement should continue.
Of the first-year engineering and technology students who had studied both A-level subjects, only 22% were female, the analysis found.
It reads: “Understandably there are some degrees that require prior knowledge, but to address the gender disparity in engineering and technology courses, some further thought may be needed to make it more accessible to a wider range of applicants. ”
Dr. Claudia Mollidor, Head of Research and Evaluation at EngineeringUK, said: “The gender disparity within undergraduate degrees in engineering and technology is really concerning.
“As A-levels in maths and physics are often a requirement for such degrees, we need to do more to ensure that these subjects are attractive and accessible to girls at school. Especially considering that we know that girls perform as well as boys, or even perform better in these subjects.”
She added: “It is clear that the UK will struggle to overcome its acute skills shortage if it fails to increase the number of women entering tech careers.
“The first step to addressing this is to increase girls’ interest and involvement in science and math in school.”