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More female students interested in engineering

A growing proportion of female students are expressing an interest in studying engineering, new research has revealed.

The proportion of 16 to 18-year-old female students expressing an interest in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering has shown a bigger increase over the past seven years than the proportion of male students, according to Cambridge Occupational Analysts.

Over the past seven years, the COA has surveyed around 20,000 16 to 18-year-old sixth formers across the UK on the subjects they are interested in studying at university.

The percentage of female students expressing an interest in civil engineering rose by 10 per cent between 2006/07 and 2012/13 – double the percentage rise of male pupils.

Girls’ interest in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering rose by 18 per cent and 27 per cent respectively, compared to 10 per cent and 13 per cent for boys.

In 2012/13, more than a fifth of female respondents considered studying general engineering – a 16 per cent increase on 2006/7, compared with just a 5 per cent increase among male students.

COA joint directors Tim Mainstone and Joyce Lane said: “Our survey results suggest that girls are beginning to respond positively to the message that they can perform as well as boys in STEM subjects and aim for rewarding careers in related professions such as engineering.

“It must be remembered that they were starting from a relatively low base, and women are still under-represented in these subjects areas. Nevertheless, these are promising signs and it appears that we can expect to see more young women graduating with STEM degrees in the coming years.”

Mr Mainstone and Ms Lane urged firms to ensure there are career opportunities for female and male STEM graduates.

In building-related subjects, however, interest dropped by 9 per cent among male students and by 6 per cent among female students.

Overall, planning dropped in popularity by 9 per cent and surveying fell in popularity by 7 per cent over the seven-year period.

The proportion of female students considering studying other science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, including combined sciences, chemical engineering chemistry and biochemistry also increased ahead of their male counterparts.

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