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Your Life takes aim at STEM gender gap

11/11/2014 Joanna
Women and other under-represented groups are to be given opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects as part of the Your Life campaign.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative at Google offices in London, education secretary Nicky Morgan said it is essential that teenage girls do not view such subjects as the "preserve of men" if the gender pay gap is to be eliminated.

Your Life is aimed at encouraging more youngsters to take STEM subjects at A-level, with a target of raising number of students studying A-level maths and physics by 50 per cent within three years.

The education secretary announced the launch of the Your Life Formula 100 Competition for 11 to 18-year-olds, which will offer prizes for young people who submit a video speculating on inventions that would make their dream jobs better.

A judging panel made up of the country's leading entrepreneurs will select the winners, who could get the chance to spend a day with the Premier League or the UK Space Agency.

Ms Morgan spoke about the rise in status of maths and science subjects in recent years. While the humanities were previously seen as opening doors into a wide range of careers, science and maths are now essential for many jobs, she said.

However, not enough pupils are aware of the benefits of these subjects, with only 19 per cent of girls and less than half of boys who achieved an A* in GCSE physics going on to study it at A-level. 

"These figures show us that too many young people are making choices aged 15 that will hold them back for the rest of their life," Ms Morgan stated.

Nevertheless, some progress has been made in recent years, with 1,000 more girls studying A-level physics every year and 2,000 more girls studying A-level maths than in 2010. In addition, maths is now the most popular A-level subject, accounting for 10.7 per cent of entries, compared to 10.5 per cent for English.

Ms Morgan said that science is one of the key drivers of social mobility, with success in the subject opening doors to highly-paid careers for children from all backgrounds.

Your Life will work with businesses to ensure work experience and apprenticeship opportunities are open to everyone, as well as encouraging the development of more inclusive workplace cultures.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801759503-ADNFCR
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