The research is an analysis of UCAS data from employment lawyer Richard Nelson LLP, and showed a ‘healthy’ increase in overall figures for applications to engineering courses over the last decade with an increase of 96.49 per cent in female undergraduate applications.
However, university engineering courses still receive four times more male applications than female according to the research, showing that despite progress there is still a significant gender gap — 2021 saw 125,320 male applicants and just 29,650 female.
“We have seen a significant rise in the number of females who are interested in studying engineering at university and an influx of women into the workforce,” said Jayne Harrison, employment lawyer at Richard Nelson LLP, describing the overall rise of engineering applications as ‘encouraging’.
“We can see there has been a sharp rise in applications for medicine and dentistry during the pandemic, a period which has shone a light on key workers and the NHS. In this same manner, the data also shows a significant rise in interest for education degrees.”
Harrison said that individuals may have been ‘swayed’ toward wishing to contribute toward the NHS and education sectors due to the increased strain on key workers during the pandemic.
Hannah Titley, director at The Golden Circle Tuition said that despite progress within the last ten years, social norms around gender roles still pervade.
“We need to inform and inspire,” she commented. “Inform girls on what careers are available in science and how these jobs are critical for finding solutions to global challenges — climate change, food security, healthcare. We also need to inspire girls by making these jobs attractive.
“This generation of young people is inspiring. Global problems are on their radar. We just need to push successful female scientists to the forefront — on social media, TV, Ted Talks, podcasts — to talk about their work, empower young people to get involved, and explain why their job matters.”