Girls and STEM

There has been a lot in the media lately about the lack of girls studying STEM subjects at A level and beyond. This has also been the time when I have been hearing about the experiences of some of my ex pupils as they go to university open days and wait for offers.

I have been struck by how many of my girls who were able mathematicians and scientists have abandoned those subjects completely and are concentrating on performing arts or media subjects. I have heard several stories from parents who have been accompanying their daughters up and down the country to auditions for heavily over subscribed courses in drama or musical theatre. The stories are sad as over and over again, the girls do not get offered a place at their chosen college. However, having made their subject choices at GCSE and A level, their options now are severely limited. EVen those who do get a place do not have any sort of secure future. Of the five girls that I know personally who have graduated from drama college, all of them have now gone into teaching after not being able to break into the theatre business.

Why is it that so many girls are lured into theatre as a future career and reject options such as Science or computing? Is it because they are lured by the celebrity culture and want to be part of that? Or is it that they were turned off the other subjects at some point in their secondary school career?

I have just read an interesting blogpost about some STEM subjects needing to do more to encourage girls

However I also feel that more needs to be done by secondary schools to make sure that girls are not switched off by physics, maths and computing lessons. They should see those subjects as the exciting areas that they are and areas that could be potentially a lot more rewarding than not quite making it as an actress or singer.

This isn’t knocking secondary teachers who I know work hard at attracting all pupils to their subjects. However secondary schools do bear a responsibility for educating their pupils for adult life and a career. There are too many girls who are wondering what they are going to do now after having spent 2 years concentrating on dance and drama only to not be offered a place at any college. Performing arts classes have mushroomed but I don’t think that there are many more opportunities out there for pupils to get their big break.