8 April 2024

Over the last few weeks, we’ve hosted workshops with members of our community to encourage more girls into STEM subjects and to stick with them once they’re there. Why? 

Well, despite some improvements in recent years, there’s still a noticeable disparity between boys and girls and their subject choices, especially within STEM subjects at GCSE and A Level. This is happening here at Llanishen High School, across Wales, and globally too. For us, Computer Science, Physics, and Chemistry are just some of the subjects lacking a female presence and it’s something we’re working hard to change.

So in this blog, we want to talk about what we can do as a collective to encourage more girls into STEM subjects and ultimately, STEM careers. Because representation and diversity truly matter.

Why aren’t girls choosing STEM subjects?

Let’s start with the reasons why many girls are choosing not to opt for STEM subjects. Sadly, the research from education charity Teach First shows that girls are affected by confidence levels. It found that 54% lacked confidence in Maths, compared with 41% of boys. Whereas the gap was even wider in Science, where 43% of girls lacked confidence compared with 26% of boys. 

Here are some other eye-opening stats we found from the Institute of Engineering which were released earlier this year:

  • Women make up just 29% of the STEM workforce today
  • 32% of women get put off by STEM industries because of how male-dominated they are
  • When asked to name a woman – past or present – in STEM, only 8% could name any women who have made significant contributions to STEM fields

But the one figure that stood out to us? 45% said that women are not encouraged to think about STEM careers in school. We thought to ourselves, this is something that we can change.

What we’re doing at LHS

We started by introducing workshops hosted by female members of the STEM community because we understand that representation matters. You can’t be what you can’t see, and we believe that it’s important for our girls to have a clear sight of what opportunities lie ahead for them if they choose to pursue their interests in STEM. 

This is also why we’re reaching out to our alumni network so we can connect our talented young girls with other members of the STEM community, who have achieved success in their fields. The broader range of experiences, the better. If you’d like to be involved in any way, please complete the form on our alumni page – we’d love to hear from you.

Other ways we’re encouraging girls into STEM subjects include:

  • Regular assemblies around subject choices
  • Creating seating plans that ensure that we positively seat our students by ensuring a mix of abilities and backgrounds
  • Connecting our female students with STEM professionals in our alumni community
  • We have extensive support for our STEM students at key stages 4 and 5.

Why do we need more girls in STEM subjects?

For us, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and understand the role we can play. After all, if we can encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects on a school level, then we can help to support positive representation changes across these sectors in Wales.

Here’s why improved diversity in STEM industries matters:

  • Greater diversity, more perspectives. Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to STEM fields, and can affect real-world changes.
  • Representation = role models. When women are underrepresented in STEM, it can reinforce stereotypes and discourage other girls and young women from pursuing their aspirations in these fields. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle but the opposite is also true. Increasing the visibility of women in STEM roles can inspire the next generation of female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists.
  • Mind the (gender) gap. Achieving gender parity in STEM fields is a matter of equity and social justice. Women should have equal opportunities to pursue careers in any field they choose, without encountering barriers or discrimination based on their gender.
  • Better teamwork and collaboration. Time and time again, studies show that diversity in teams leads to better problem-solving and decision-making. By giving more women a seat at the table, we can create more effective outcomes.
  • Propping up the economy. STEM fields drive innovation and economic growth. By including more women, we tap into a larger pool of talent, which can lead to increased productivity, competitiveness, and economic prosperity at a time when that feels essential.

So there you have it. Increasing the representation of women in STEM subjects (and professions) is not just a matter of fairness, it’s essential for driving innovation, solving complex problems, and building a more inclusive society. So we’ll continue to champion these conversations until we achieve more equal representation, and we hope you’ll join this conversation with us.