United Kingdom High School Preparation

The Women’s Engineering Society, a professional organization for women engineers, scientists, and technologists in the United Kingdom, prepared a report in 2015 on the state of women in engineering. They found that only 9% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female, among the lowest percentages in Europe. Research shows that the main reason for the low number of women in engineering is the subject choices that girls make in school, with very low numbers of girls choosing to take Engineering or Computing courses.

Note: The GSCE is the General Certificate of Secondary Education, a recognized qualification in the United Kingdom among students in secondary education.

Source: WES. (2015). Statistics on Women in Engineering.

EngineeringUK tested girls and boys in Years 8 (12-13 year olds) and 10 (14-15 year olds) to determine how well they understood physics material and how confident they were in their answers to physics questions. They found that though girls had a better conceptual understanding of physics, they were less likely to be confident in their answers. Students were also asked if they believed they were good at physics and if they thought that their teacher believed that they should continue to study physics after completing secondary education. Girls reported having a lower self-concept and lower teacher encouragement than boys.

Slide A: Conceptual attainment and confidence in conceptual attainment of Year 8 and Year 10 girls and boys. Source: EngineeringUK. (2016). EngineeringUK 2016: The state of engineering.

Slide B: Physics self-concept and teacher encouragement of Year 8 and Year 10 girls and boys. Source: EngineeringUK. (2016). EngineeringUK 2016: The state of engineering.