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 22% for A-level physics in 2018. 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 recently concluded pilot of the Maths and Physics Girls’ Scholarship scheme, which was evaluated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), suggest that those statistics can be changed relatively quickly. The IFS found that the Maths and Physics Girls’ Scholarship increased applications to A-level maths and/or physics by 7.7% in schools where students received the scholarship. The scholarship also increased applications to study A-level maths and physics by 8.2% and 10%, respectively.
The pilot trial has only indicated that the scholarship intervention may be effective, based on students having reported that they have chosen A-level maths, physics or both because of the scholarship. However, the above increases in applications are not applicable outside the scope of the pilot because of the relatively small sample size of 30 schools and 227 students that comprised the trial. We therefore intend to run an expanded trial, starting in 2019, to obtain estimates of the effects of the scholarship scheme that can be extrapolated across eligible school girls nationally.
STEM Skills Fund also ran a University STEM Enrichment Residential programme in 2018, which we plan to run again in 2019. In August 2018, female A-level students from across the country spent three days at the University of Oxford, where they attended interactive presentations provided by the Maths, Computer Science and Physics faculties. The purpose of the residential 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