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STEM Careers

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 2 July 2015

29. What steps the Government are taking to encourage more girls and women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. (900726)

I refer my hon. Friend to my earlier answers on this topic. I should add, however, that the Government support a STEM ambassadors programme involving a nationwide network of more than 30,000 volunteers employed by science, engineering and technical companies. They work with schools throughout the United Kingdom, and 40% of them are women.

Oaklands Catholic school, which is in my constituency, is taking part in the Opening Doors pilot project initiated by the Institute of Physics to tackle gender stereotyping in schools. Will my right hon. Friend update us on what the outcome of the project will be?

I am delighted to say that the Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and Family Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Caroline Dinenage), attended Oaklands. We are funding the Institute of Physics to pilot methods of addressing gender stereotyping, and the institute has enabled two regional networks of schools to work together on the project. A good practice guide will provide advice for schools on how to identify and address gender stereotyping.

33. Since 2010, the number of female A-level entries has risen in all STEM subjects. As a former biomedical scientist, I think that that is fantastic news for the future of British industry. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that we continue to attract talented young women to STEM professions, and that females continue to study STEM subjects when they enter further education? (900730)

I welcome my hon. Friend to the House. What has been interesting about this Question Time is the number of Members who have asked about inspiring young people, and girls in particular, to study STEM subjects. That is very encouraging. Given my hon. Friend’s background, I hope that she will consider becoming a STEM ambassador, if she has not done so already, so that she can inspire the next generation.

As I have said, we support the Education and Employers Taskforce, whose Inspiring the Future programme enables volunteers to talk to young people in schools about possible future careers.