STEM Skills Fund is a registered charity (charity number: 1165930) that aims to increase the number of girls that continue the study of maths and physics beyond GCSE. There is a gender gap in A-level maths and physics. Girls made up only 39% of entrants for A-level maths, and 21.6% for A-level physics in 2017. Since the early 1990s, the proportion of girls to boys taking A-level physics has not fallen below 20.7% but not risen above 23.1%.
Findings from a pilot Maths and Physics Girls’ Scholarship scheme that we are currently running suggest that those statistics can be changed relatively quickly. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the Maths and Physics Girls’ Scholarship scheme increased application to A-level maths or physics by 22.9% in schools where students received the scholarship. The scholarship also increased applications for A-level maths and physics by 19.1% and 27%, respectively.
The current pilot trial has compellingly shown that the scholarship intervention is effective, based on students having said that they have chosen A-level maths, physics or both because of the scholarship. However, the above effect sizes are not applicable outside of the scope of the pilot trial because of the relatively small sample size of schools and students that comprised the trial. We therefore intend to run a full pilot, starting in 2018, to obtain estimates of the effects of the scholarship scheme that can be extrapolated across eligible school girls nationally.
STEM Skills Fund also runs a University STEM Enrichment Residential programme. In late August, female A-level students from across the country will participate on a STEM enrichment residential at the University of Oxford. Students will attend interactive presentations at the Maths, Computer Science and Engineering faculties. The purpose of the programme is to get students to seriously consider studying for a STEM-related degree among the wide range of higher education courses they could consider.
Click here to read what some notable people have to say about the Maths and Physics Girls’ Scholarship