A Level results: girls still shut out of STEM subjects

Thursday 16 August 2018

Today’s A Level results show that:

  • There has been an increase in the number of girls taking science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) A Levels. The number has risen by 5.5 per cent since 2017. There remains a large gender gap, however, in these subjects.
  • 21,038 more boys than girls completed physics A Levels, with boys accounting for 78 per cent of those sitting the exams.
  • 20,913 more boys than girls completed maths A Levels, with boys making up 61 per cent of those sitting the exams.

Responding, Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:

“We welcome the increase in girls taking STEM A Levels but most girls remain shut out.

“78 per cent of those taking physics A Levels and 61 per cent doing maths this year were boys. Overall, 42,000 more boys than girls completed these A Levels.

“We have growing skills gaps in industries like construction and engineering that are holding businesses and the economy back. While girls continue to face barriers to gaining relevant qualifications, those gaps will remain.

“More needs to be done from an early age to help women into STEM. Role models in schools, women’s taster sessions and better careers advice would be a good start. Supporting women into STEM degrees and apprenticeships as a next step after A Levels is vital too.”


Notes to editor:

  1. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.

  2. A Level results tables, broken down by gender, were released on 16 August 2018 and are available here: https://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels/2018/main-results-tables

  3. The results show a significant gender divide in the number of people taking up STEM subjects:
    1. 8,384 girls sat physics exams compared to 29,422 boys – a difference of 21,038, with women making up one in five of the total number of physics students and men making up 78 per cent; and
    2. 38,357 girls sat maths exams this year compared to 59,270 boys – a difference of 20,913.

  4. Young Women’s Trust research shows that gender divides in apprenticeships remain stark, with men being far more likely to enter industries like construction, engineering and IT, which give trainees higher pay, more training and better job prospects than women-dominated areas like beauty, care and administration. The charity’s report, Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women, provides recommendations on how to support more women into STEM areas:  https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/assets/0000/2906/Making_Apprenticeships_Work_for_Young_Women.pdf

  5. For more information or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org.