Interest in science and maths adds up to a brighter future
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.