Subjects don't have to be 'cool or feminine'

One single-sex school which has encouraged girls to study science is Lancaster girls' grammar in Lancashire. It has specialised in technology and its most popular A-level subjects last year were biology and chemistry.

Headteacher Pam Barber said: "The main reason why our pupils pick sciences is probably the excellent teaching, but they also don't worry about whether the subjects are cool or feminine."

Mrs Barber attended a single-sex school, Bellvue girls' grammar in Bradford, in the 1960s. "I don't think it gave me any more confidence," she said.

"In my year only about 30 of us out of 120-odd went on to do A-levels.

Girls today are far more confident and know if they get a career in engineering then the world is their oyster."

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