New research shows the number of females applying for engineering courses has almost doubled in the last 10 years.
Despite engineering courses at university still receiving four times more male applications than female, the research analysing UCAS data from Employment Lawyers Richard Nelson LLP, found an increase of 93.51% in female undergraduate applications through UCAS for engineering courses from 2011 to 2020.
Engineering courses still face a gender gap, however, with 119,250 male applicants in 2020 and 29,200 female applicants. The research also demonstrates that engineering courses are continuing to attract an increasing number of talent, with the overall figures for applications increasing from the period of 2011 to 2020.
Commenting on the findings, Jayne Harrison, employment lawyer at Richard Nelson LLP said: “We have seen a significant rise in the number of females who are interested in studying engineering at university and it is encouraging to see the overall rise of applications for engineering courses from undergraduates during the last decade.
“However, we can see there is still work to be done in order to support the applications of females to these areas. There is a significant issue with gender roles and the place this holds in influencing the careers of our young people. For a difference to be made, we must understand that this is more than just the role of a school or parents and needs to be widespread across various stakeholders in order for real change to occur.”
Hannah Titley, director at education group The Golden Circle Tuition added: “Despite progress towards gender equality in the last 10 years, social norms around gender roles still pervade. Girls are told from a young age that they should be thoughtful, attractive, and altruistic. On the other hand, boys are expected to fulfil an outdated stereotype of being ‘tough’, being funny and having high-earning job prospects. These gender stereotypes and social expectations to conform influence student choices.
“We need to inform and inspire. 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.”