Accessibility Links

Mentors 'could encourage girls to take STEM subjects'

25/04/2014 Joanna
Mentors could be used to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, education and maths (STEM) subjects, under plans put forward by National Union of Teachers president Max Hyde.

According to Mr Hyde, who teaches science in Warwickshire, more mentors should be appointed to discuss career options with female pupils, the Independent reports. The mentors would promote STEM subjects to girls, who are more likely to drop such courses during sixth form.

"One of the problems is that, with so many targets and so much accountability, teachers no longer have the time for discussions with pupils about future options," Mr Hyde said.

"We want so much of a percentage to get GCSE A* to C-grade passes. What you can do is limited. There is not lots of space in the curriculum."

The STEM gender gap tends to become pronounced at A-level, with significantly more boys taking such subjects than girls - with the sole exception of biology.

Recently, a report drew attention to the lack of female STEM role models, with many members of the public unable to identify high-profile female scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

A poll conducted on behalf of ScienceGrrl, which was established to promote gender equality in STEM subjects, found that one in ten people named the male engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel when asked to identify a famous woman from the field. 

Over two thirds of the British public named Marie Curie, a Polish physicist and Chemist who died in 1934, as the most recognisable female scientist.

ScienceGrrl's report said the responsibility for bridging the gender gap lies with the education system and those in positions of influence. It said careers advice needs to be improved and girls should not be treated differently in the classroom.

Mr Hyde said it is important to combat gender stereotyping across the board, and that he would like to see more females taking up careers in construction and more boys entering the caring professions.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801715139-ADNFCR
Add new comment