Female pupils are more likely to seek extra help in STEM subjects

New research has found that female students are disproportionately likely to seek extra tuition in STEM A Levels compared to male pupils. The research was conducted following the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on the 11th of February, and as part of the UK government’s 2018 Year of Engineering.

MyTutor has delivered over 100,000 tutorials, and they’ve used their database to analyse how female pupils approach tuition in STEM. The results show that female students are more likely than male pupils to seek out additional support in maths and science topics, despite consistently either matching or out-performing their male peers on results day.

Female grades in STEM subjects are on a par with male grades, however, girls are less likely to enter STEM A Levels or degrees. This is thought to be due in part to negative stereotypes suggesting that girls are less equipped for scientific roles, and to a general lack of female teachers and professors who can act as role models for young women in STEM. Evidence suggests that some female students are seeking out these female role models for themselves.

Shruti Verma, a tutor for MyTutor, is doing a PhD in biomedical engineering at Imperial College, London, and tutors maths and physics in her spare time. ‘It makes a difference to have people closer to your age tutoring you – it’s one thing seeing women in STEM who are your parents’ age, but with people closer to your own age you can identify with them more and ask them questions you wouldn’t ask adults’

‘There are a huge number of talented young female scientists who lack academic role models. I’m delighted that our tutors are able to fill that gap.’ said James Grant, co-founder of MyTutor.

Last year, only 25% of graduates with a core STEM degree were women, a figure which has remained stagnant over the past four years. This has a knock-on effect on the proportion in STEM professions: just 13% of those working in STEM occupations are women. These statistics partially explain today’s gender pay gap: STEM graduates earn nearly 20% more than their peers.  By providing more female role models and tutors for young women interested in STEM, we can begin to buck this trend.

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