We must get more girls into STEM subjects

12th April 2013 at 01:00

It is clear that we need to look at a variety of ways to address the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills shortage ("Google fears crash in next generation of experts", 5 April). With recent research from the Institute of Physics showing that nearly half of all co-ed maintained schools in England do not send even one girl on to do physics at A level, many female students in this country are ruled out of STEM careers before they have even reached the age of 16.

Studies have shown that women who went to girls' schools are more likely to study stereotypically male subjects such as maths, ICT and chemistry, both at school and at university. We know this to be true from our own experience, with students at the 26 Girls' Day School Trust schools and academies more than twice as likely to study A-level physics or chemistry than girls nationally, and with nearly half their sixth-form students taking at least one science A level.

Schools, universities and businesses need to focus on how to work together to enable our female students to access STEM careers, which in turn would play a part in addressing the overall shortage of STEM graduates in this country. We know that in girls' schools there's no such thing as a girls' or boys' subject - so how can we take this lesson and apply it to all institutions?

Helen Fraser, Chief executive of the Girls' Day School Trust.

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