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STEM Subjects

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 26 November 2015

8. What support the Government is providing to encourage more girls to choose STEM subjects in schools. (902386)

The Government are determined to increase the number of young people, particularly girls, studying science, technology, engineering and maths. There have been 12,000 more STEM A-level entries for girls over the last five years, but of course more needs to be done. That is why we are supporting schools through professional development and enrichment activities, including the Stimulating Physics Network, STEMNET and the inspiring Your Life campaign, which will transform perceptions of science and maths.

I thank the Minister for her reply. As a former engineer, I know at first hand the benefits of choosing STEM subjects in schools, and I am pleased that the Government are encouraging more girls into the area. Does the Minister agree that alongside the promotion of STEM in schools, it is vital that young people, particularly girls, receive good careers advice and guidance so that they can go on to succeed in the STEM-related industries?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We know that girls often outperform boys in STEM subjects at school but do not necessarily go on to study those subjects at A-level or go into STEM careers. That is why I am delighted that we have set up the new Careers & Enterprise Company, which will strengthen the links between employers and schools and hopefully inspire the next generation of engineers by showing them just how interesting and varied careers in engineering can be.

In September, Medway’s new engineering university technical college opened, and I am thrilled that many local girls chose to be part of the first intake. To what extent has industry been involved in the Your Life campaign to inspire more girls to consider a career in STEM?

As my hon. Friend outlines, Your Life is a fantastic industry-led and industry-funded campaign. Everyone is committed to inspiring the next generation of boys, but particularly girls, in the importance of STEM. I experienced that at first hand when I visited the Ford motor company in Dagenham—the spiritual home of the fight for equal pay—and saw a team of schoolgirls racing cars around its test track and really understanding the value and excitement of careers in STEM.