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Girls still have stereotyped view of engineering, claims study

An analysis of school exam results from AECOM has shown that fewer girls are choosing STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects at A Level, even though they’re outperforming boys at GCSE.

It says that subjects need to be re-framed and engineering careers presented to girls at a younger age in order to increase the number entering the profession.

The study found that last year 72% of girls achieved grade C or above in STEM subjects at GCSE compared to 66% of boys. Although choice of STEM subjects at A Level is up by 19% over the past five years, the number of male students has risen faster than female. For example the number of males taking maths A Level rose by 27% between 2009 and 2014, compared to a 17% increase in female students.

ACEOM chief executive, civil infrastructure, EMEA and India Richard Robinson, said: “Technical industries such as engineering need to capture the imagination of young people, and girls in particular, to encourage them into technical professions. Stereotypes about construction sites are still very much in existence, but the reality is very different.

“Young people need to hear about the exciting, intellectually challenging work engineers do to build a better world, from designing sustainable transport and energy infrastructure to protecting people from floods or planning cities of the future. If more teenagers are made aware of the opportunities to travel the world and work on high-profile projects that really benefit society, the numbers seeking to enter the profession will inevitably increase.”

Robinson added that ACOM employees regularly visit schools to talk about engineering, but more collaboration is needed and he hoped the government’s new careers service could help in this.

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