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STEM subjects boost girls' earnings by a third, study says

24/03/2015 Kelly
Studying maths or science at A-level can boost girls' earnings by as much a third, according to a new report.

The research reveals that the returns for women who study two or more A-levels in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subjects are 33.1 per cent when compared to those who only obtain GCSE-level qualifications.

This figure is significantly higher than the equivalent for men, who benefit from a 7.8 per cent earnings boost if they study the subjects at A-level.

Encouraging more girls to study STEM subjects has been part of the coalition's education plan since 2010, resulting in 10,000 more STEM A-level entries for female pupils. 

Chemistry has seen a 19 per cent rise in female entrants, while there has been a 15 per cent increase in girls studying physics, a 12 per cent climb in those studying biology and an eight per cent rise in those studying maths.

Using data from 13,000 individuals dating back to 1970, researchers analysed the earnings associated with different levels of qualifications by the time people reached the middle of their careers. 

Their findings show that all individuals benefit from studying STEM subjects but women enjoy disproportionate gains.

The analysis, led by consultancy firm London Economics, also demonstrates that performance in primary school maths tests is a significant indicator of future earnings, highlighting the importance of studying core subjects from an early age.

Even when further qualifications are taken into account, girls who perform in the top 25 per cent of maths tests at age ten earn almost a quarter more than those scoring in the bottom 25 per cent by the time they reach the middle of their careers.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: "STEM A-level entries are up by as much as a fifth since 2010 - but we won't stop here. 

"We are investing millions to get more children studying these subjects by training an additional 17,500 teachers over the next five years and setting up expert maths hubs to replicate the success of top-performing Asian countries."

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801780960-ADNFCR
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