A Level results celebrate STEM success

This year, as every year, many stories hit the headlines when it comes to the country’s A Level results. And there is one story that is repeated every year: the gap in the number of girls studying STEM subjects when compared with boys.

This year there is some good news: more girls (and boys) are choosing STEM subjects. Whilst this is certainly something to celebrate, the “gap” in girls studying STEM subjects still needs to be addressed. We are missing out on a huge pool of STEM talent as girls continue to drop out of these subjects early on.

We are proud that again this year that girls in GDST schools have stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to STEM. As one example, there were double the number of girls taking physics at GDST schools compared to girls nationally. In girls-only schools, there are no ‘boys’ subjects’ – every subject is a girls’ subject.

This experience is backed up by research from the Institute of Physics which shows that encouraging more girls into science is not just about specific initiatives focussed on girls or even on science or technology, but about a whole-school approach, enabling students and staff to understand and address the impact of unconscious bias and gender stereotyping.

Many incredible GDST alumnae have gone on to be trailblazers in their chosen fields, including in science. And just this week, one of them, Dr Jess Wade, physicist and researcher at Imperial College London, raised enough money to send a copy of Angela Saini’s book Inferior: how science got women wrong – and the new research that’s rewriting the story to every state school in the UK, to help break down in barriers in schools.

There is so much potential out there, there is so much more we can all do, from looking at the role models we highlight. to training teachers to understand unconscious bias and how the experiences of boys and girls may differ because of it, and adopt more inclusive teaching practices, to raising students’ awareness and engagement of the gender stereotypes they face.

According to techUK, last year there were more unfilled vacancies in IT than any other sector. With the right support at school, girls can and will help to close that gap.