New university technical colleges struggling to attract girls, says report


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The Independent Online

A warning that pioneering university technical colleges could be considered “schools for boys” by some parents is delivered in a new report published today.

The UTCs offer top-class vocational studies for 14 to 18-year-olds, but some have found it difficult to attract girls to study the so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) with intakes ranging from just six per cent of pupils in one case to 70 per cent in another.

According to the report, jointly published by the Royal Academy of Engineering and WISE (Women Into Science and Engineering), only 13 per cent of employees in STEM occupations are women, despite them comprising 46 per cent of the UK labour force.

An attempt by one UTC to overcome the problem by insisting on recruiting equal numbers of boys and girls was ruled illegal after the mother of a rejected boy complained about its 50/50 admissions procedure. Judges ruled the scheme was discriminatory.

Philip Greenish, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering said that girls and young women were so poorly represented in engineering it was “imperative that we do more to harness their skills and talents”.

A checklist for UTCs included in the report says they should make sure they advertise in locations and online platforms used by girls, such as the Girl Guides, drama groups, girls’ magazines and netball clubs.