More than 64,000 girls could be future engineers
24 August 2017
This year 64,657 girls passed their physics GCSE, with nearly 30,000 of these achieving the top grades (A or above). Physics is a core requirement for engineering and an entry point for many other STEM qualifications, yet based on last week’s A level results, most of these girls will be lost to engineering because they don’t plan to take physics, maths or computing any further.
WISE Chief Executive Helen Wollaston expressed concern about maths: “Whilst I am delighted to see the positive trends for girls in STEM subjects, we have a problem as a country when four out of 10 children – boys as well as girls - will struggle to find work in the rapidly expanding technology and engineering sectors because they failed maths GCSE. We can do more with role models to inspire children to enjoy maths but in the meantime, I would encourage companies with skills shortages to consider offering traineeships to young people with potential as a stepping stone into a digital or engineering apprenticeship. They stand a better chance of passing maths when they learn to use it in a work context.”
Stephanie Mitchell, Head of Industry Relations at UTC Reading, who has direct experience of inspiring girls, is encouraged by this year’s results: “We are moving in the right direction. It is pleasing to see so many girls taking STEM subjects and achieving so highly.
“A notable achievement is 100% of girls obtaining A* to C, in a male dominated subject, Construction. Girls are challenging the stereotypes associated with STEM subjects. It is essential that we continue to capture the creativity of our girls at a young age to ensure they develop confidence and aspirations on an equal basis with their male counterparts. UTC Reading has been a keen advocate for raising the profile of women in STEM through our membership with WISE. So much so, that our prospective data looks extremely promising and we anticipate a rise in females attending the UTC to study either Engineering or Computer Science. The WISE "People Like Me" resource has been exceptional in showing new and existing female students the potential that STEM careers can hold.”
WISE has published charts showing a gender analysis of the 2017 GCSE results on its website,
In June 2017, WISE, in partnership with ICE and Semta, launched an online Apprenticeship Toolkit with advice on attracting girls and women onto STEM apprenticeships.The WISE People Like Me campaign encourages 11-14 year old girls to choose a STEM subject post 16.