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Meg backs call to get more girls studying physics

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Former Women’s minister, Meg Munn MP, has today backed calls to get more girls studying physics. A new report by the Institute of Physics, out today, shows that almost half (49%) of all co-educational  maintained schools in England do not send a single girl on to study A-level physics.

Meg has long campaigned for more female scientists, technologists and engineers, and last year edited ‘Unlocking Potential: perspectives on women in Science, Engineering & Technology’, a collection of essays exploring what is holding girls and women back in these areas and what we should do about it.

Meg commented:

“Today’s report provides clear information showing that we need both government and schools to do much more to ensure that more girls study A-level physics. We have serious skills shortages in this country in many areas of science, engineering and technology, where women are still underrepresented. This is no coincidence and the government must respond to the report’s findings and ensure that this situation improves.

When I was Minister for Women and Equality I was staggered to learn that 70% of women with qualifications in science, engineering and technology do not work in these fields. It was not hard to envisage the huge amount of wasted time, investment and talent. Too few girls go into these areas in the first place, too few women stay in them and yet our country suffers from a shortage of these very skills.”

The Institute of Physics report: ‘It’s Different for Girls

The new report shows that there is a discrepancy between co-educational and single sex schools, with girls being almost two and a half times more likely to do physics A-level in an all-girls’ school. The girls losing out are those who attend co-educational schools that do not have a sixth form. These findings support earlier research which suggests that girls are often turned off physics for three main reasons: their experience of physics at school, their teacher-student relationship and students’ own developing sense of identity how they see themselves in relation to the subject, which can be informed by a wide range of influences. 

The Institute of Physics makes a series of recommendations to government and its agencies, head teachers and parents, including a recommendation to Ofsted that gender equity be part of the school inspectors’ criteria.

View the full report and the recommendations for change at: http://www.iop.org/education/teacher/support/girls_physics/page_41593.html


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