A-level results indicate engineering will remain male-dominated

More girls are studying science at A-level, but a lack of interest in physics indicates the gender demographics of engineering are likely to remain stable for now. Exam results for UK students have been released, showing a drop in the proportion of A*-A marks awarded, but stable passing grades compared to recent years. Statistics from 2019 also show a generally increased uptake in STEM subjects, with female students taking the lead in the sciences for the first time. Girls made up 50.3% of all entrants to biology, chemistry and physics, up from 49.6% in 2018. While positive news overall, a deeper dive into the percentages suggests this increase may not translate to a higher percentage of female engineers just yet. Female students represented a clear majority in both biology and chemistry, however the same was not true of physics, where boys outnumbered girls 77% to 23%. The UCAS website suggests to study engineering at degree level, “maths A level is normally essential, with many universities requiring or preferring a second A level in physics”. With male students making up over 60% of all A-level maths (including further maths) entrants and over 75% of physics entrants, it is unlikely the gender imbalance of engineering at undergraduate level and beyond will be significantly impacted by this crop of students. The overall increase in STEM uptake is nonetheless to be celebrated, and it should be noted too that compared to last year, the number of female physics entries increased by a higher percentage than their male counterparts (a 4.9% increase compared to 2.5% more males).