In­ter­est in science and maths adds up to a brighter fu­ture

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

IN AU­GUST 2014, ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary Nicky Mor­gan wel­comed data which showed more stu­dents were study­ing maths and sciences for their A-lev­els and that more women were tak­ing ex­ams and get­ting top grades in sub­jects such as maths, the sciences, tech­nol­ogy and en­gi­neer­ing.

Ms Mor­gan is also min­is­ter for women and equal­i­ties and th­ese roles are in­trin­si­cally linked, as those of us in the realm of public pol­icy fight to bring the fe­male work­force into a com­par­a­tive po­si­tion with their male coun­ter­parts.

De­spite the in­crease in takeup of th­ese sub­jects at A-level, data this month from the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Statis­tics Agency shows that women at uni­ver­sity still only ac­count for 17 per cent of stu­dents in en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy, 20 per cent in com­puter science, 40 per cent in maths and 41 per cent in physics.

The fig­ures for male up­take of maths and the sciences are steady or in­creas­ing and the dis­par­ity in wages be­tween the sexes seems set to con­tinue.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by the Joint Coun­cil for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions, good grades in the sciences and in maths rou­tinely help se­cure jobs with the high­est wages and lessen chances of un­em­ploy­ment.

Work­ers with A-level maths earn on av­er­age 10 per cent more than those who do not and science or tech­no­log­i­cal jobs pay on av­er­age 19 per cent more than other pro­fes­sions.

Women have the great­est rep­re­sen­ta­tion in ed­u­ca­tion and health and so­cial work, which is no sur­prise given that 40 per cent of women in em­ploy­ment work in the public sec­tor, but higher salaries are avail­able in the pri­vate sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in pro­fes­sions such as en­gi­neer­ing, medicine, IT and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

We need to en­cour­age more fe­male stu­dents to take maths and sciences af­ter their GCSEs, and there­fore work in th­ese in­dus­tries, partly by show­ing them the fi­nan­cial re­wards that may come and partly through en­cour­ag­ing girls from a young age to look at all aca­demic sub­jects and jobs equally and not send them down a stereo­typ­i­cally ‘fe­male’ ca­reer path.

We should also be tack­ling the in­her­ent in­equal­ity that ex­ists in so­ci­ety that means even when a woman has the same qual­i­fi­ca­tions as a man, she is still likely to earn less.

I would like to know what you think.

In your opin­ion, is the an­swer aca­demic ed­u­ca­tion or so­ci­etal ed­u­ca­tion? Email

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