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UK – Worst record in Europe for recruitment of female engineers

04 November 2013

The United Kingdom has the worst record in Europe for the recruitment of female engineers with half of the state schools in England and Wales not having a single girl studying physics at A-Level, reports the Independent.

The figures were released in a review carried out by the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills by Professor John Perkins, its chief scientific adviser. According to the review, there is an urgent need to substantially increase the supply of engineers in the UK if the country is to compete with its international rivals.

According to the report, only 8% of engineering professionals in the UK are women; compared with 30% in Latvia, the country with the best record. In addition, 22 of the 28 countries surveyed do twice as well as the UK in terms of recruitment.

The report claims that the thousands of pounds pumped into efforts to promote equality in subject choice have been wasted. In addition it may also support claims that girls are more likely to opt for non-traditional subject in single sex schools.

Parents have also been apportioned blame for putting girls off a career in engineering, as they were 9% less likely to recommend it as a career for girls, the biggest “gender gap” for any job. It adds that one of the reasons for the poor recruitment record is that gender stereotypes are often reinforced in the careers advice given to students.

The report urges the Government to concentrate efforts at persuading more young people to take up engineering as a career at 11 to 14-year-olds, adding: “Starting to inspire people at 16 is too late: choices are made and options closed off well before then.”

Further research published today shows that half the country’s 11 to 14-year-olds would not consider a career in engineering because they do not know anything about it.  The figure is much higher for girls – 65%.

However, it shows 28% would consider it as a career if they realised they could work in exciting industries like fashion, music and film.

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