The UK’s growth industries face collapse unless they tackle the problem of the “50,000 missing female minds” pursuing STEM careers, according to equality campaign group Wise.
The group claimed that while British firms face a shortfall of 69,000 STEM-skilled recruits a year, a high proportion of women face limited prospects because they do not pursue appropriate qualifications for technology careers.
Wise chief executive Helen Wollaston has called on the government, media and schools to do more to promote STEM roles to girls, such as allowing companies to use the apprenticeship levy to market engineering apprenticeships to women.
“The skills crisis has taken our most productive industries to breaking point and we all have a role to play in making sure everyone recognises the importance and value of STEM qualifications,” she said.
In the year to August 2016, 295,584 boys and 288,084 girls took STEM subjects at GCSE – it is compulsory for pupils to take maths and at least one science subject at GCSE.
However, in higher education, higher apprenticeships and level four vocational qualifications, there were 70,573 males compared to 20,337 females – a shortfall of 50,236 women.