Girls attending University Technical Colleges feel that they have a better chance of becoming engineers than those attending mainstream secondary schools, according to a new survey.
The research, by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, found that only 43 per cent of girls in mainstream schools think they have the same opportunities to enter the industry as boys. Only three per cent say that they would consider a career in engineering.
However, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of girls at University Technical Colleges (UTCs) believe they have the same job opportunities as boys when it comes to engineering.
The trend is the same in other sectors traditionally dominated by men, including technology, where three quarters of girls at UTCs believe that they have the same job chances, and science, where 83 per cent feel that they have equal opportunities.
The survey, of 14- to 18-year-old students at UTCs and other mainstream schools, also shows a worrying difference in how confident girls feel about getting a job when they leave education.
While 90 per cent of girls at UTCs feel confident that they could get a job, that falls to 76 per cent at other mainstream schools.
Almost double the number of girls attending UTCs (83 per cent) feel that they have gained valuable practical skills, compared to just 49 per cent at other mainstream schools.
Lord Baker, chair of Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity behind UTCs, said: “The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.
“We have to challenge outdated ideas that careers in engineering, science and technology are more suitable for boys than girls.
“Girls at University Technical Colleges are leading the way, demonstrating the kind of talent, commitment and interest in these subjects that this country so desperately needs. It’s vital that this message is championed in other schools as well.”
Philip Greenish, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said UTCs were “superbly positioned” to reach out to young people from all backgrounds and had the ability to bring to life the opportunities available from a career like engineering.