Media release - 7/4/2009

ETB champions women as solution to CBI survey woes

The Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) has responded to the CBI’s ‘Emerging Stronger’ survey, and its assertion that there is high employer demand for both Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) employees, and work-ready employees with basic literacy and numeracy skills, by highlighting the vast, untapped potential of the thousands upon thousands of young women who meet all these requirements, yet shy away from STEM careers.

 According to GCSE pass rates in English, Maths and across the board, young women of school-leaving age are more literate, numerate and do better in science than their male counterparts, with 9 % more female candidates gaining 5 or more GCSE passes at grades A-C.

Young women and girls also appear to enjoy maths, science and technology subjects more than their male counterparts with 22 % more girls aged 7-11 ‘enjoying design and technology‘ than boys, and 22% more boys than girls ‘not enjoying science and maths at all’, a trend which is mirrored to some extent at age 11-16.

Yet, despite this proven capability and interest in STEM subjects at school, a vast resource of literate, numerate, ‘work-ready’ young women is entirely lost to the STEM employers highlighted in the CBI survey, as demonstrated by the fact that:
o 27 % of women with Science, Engineering and Technology degrees go into jobs within these fields, compared with 54 % of their male counterparts
o Over a quarter of careers advisors and teachers associate engineering with men.

This results in a vastly restricted talent pool in the science and engineering roles the CBI survey identifies.

The ETB believes that in order to meet employers’ requirements for increasingly numerate and literate employees at all levels of STEM careers, as well as addressing the ETB’s recent findings that employers are looking for more ‘work-ready’ employees, more young women should be encouraged to join the STEM workforce, bringing with them stronger skills in literacy, numeracy, science and general ‘work-readiness’.

The ETB is addressing the gender divide via a variety of interventions, including the Engineers Make it Happen campaign, and the scenta Role Models scheme, as part of which female engineers are being encouraged to sign up and pass on their expertise and enthusiasm for their subject.

ETB Chief Executive, Paul Jackson, said: “We know from GCSE results that young women aged 15-16 demonstrate better numeracy, literacy and science skills than young men, and yet we also know that a quarter of careers advisors associate science and engineering careers with men. Therefore the most effective way to close the numeracy, literacy and other industrial skills gaps identified by Science and Engineering employers, is to improve careers advice, tackle gender stereotypes, and prevent so many skilled young women being lost to science and engineering’.

Notes to Editors
1) For the CBI ‘emerging Stronger’ Survey Visit:

For further information please contact:
Laura Marsh, PR and Communications Manager EngineeringUK
Tel: 020 3206 0444 or (m) 07887 943 017