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Science and Technology

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 17 June 2010

4. If she will take steps to increase the proportion of people entering careers in science and technology who are women. (2703)

We are absolutely committed to working with teachers and careers advisers to encourage more young women to enter careers in science, engineering and technology, and to supporting British business to increase opportunities for professional women in this sector. The science and technology sector is critical to the UK economy, and women have an enormous contribution to make.

I thank the Minister for her reply. When I entered Imperial college to study engineering, the proportion of women in engineering was about 12%. More than 25 years later, that proportion is almost exactly the same. Does the Minister agree that that represents a huge failure in the science and engineering establishment of this country and that now, when we need to rebalance our economy towards engineering and science, urgent measures are required?

Yes, I agree with the hon. Lady, who is an excellent role model in her field, and I should be happy to talk with her if she has ideas to share with me. It is important that we take this forward. Many companies have already taken action to increase the numbers of women in their work force, but we are clearly not moving fast enough. British Gas has been quite good. It has doubled its work force of women engineers by recruiting women and retraining them. We have to move further and we have to move faster.