There is a huge drop off in the number of girls studying core STEM subjects at the age of 16. Just 35% of girls choose maths, physics, computing or a technical vocational qualification compared to 94% of boys. This reduces the number going on to do a degree or level 4 qualification in maths, physics, computer science or engineering – 9% of girls compared to 29% of boys.
The number of women achieving a STEM apprenticeship has increased by 250 – a 6% growth on the previous year. The percentage has gone down however, because the number of men has increased by just over 5,300, an increase of 10%.
The trends are very positive, with more women working in core STEM than ever before. 61,430 more women work in core STEM * in 2017 than in 2016. The number of men in core STEM fell by 45,980 in the same period.
Girls continue to outperform boys across most STEM subjects and entries by girls continue to grow across many subjects, despite a drop in STEM entries overall.
The number of girls entering key core STEM subjects has increased, despite the overall number of A level entries across all subjects falling. However, girls still remain under represented across core STEM - for the second year in a row they represent just 36.7% of entrants to core STEM subjects due to a growing number of boys taking the subjects too.
There was no significant change in the number of women graduating from UK universities with a core STEM degree in 2016 compared to the year before. Women made up 25% of the total, the same as last year and the year before. Just over 22,000 women graduated in 2016 in the five core subjects most relevant to construction, engineering and technology, compared to over 65,000 men.
Today the STEM worker shortfall is estimated to be approximately 69,000 thousand per year. Without drastic change, UK key growth industries risk stalling and the UK has the potential to fall even further behind other European countries. A press release at the WISE Conference , on 10 November 2016 highlights one potential solution – to focus on the 50,000 girls turning away from a STEM education every year. Without significant change to increase the potential number of skilled STEM practitioners leaving education, the labour force skills shortage will only deepen.
This demonstrates that some progress is being made, but as the STEM sectors continue to grow, the rate at which women are taking up jobs does not compare to that of men.