Teach First calls for ministers to act to showcase women in STEM
Teacher training charity Teach First has urged ministers to take urgent action to prioritise curriculum funding to showcase women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
At the launch of their ‘STEMinism’ campaign, the charity presented a study which revealed that women are not mentioned in the GCSE science curriculum.
As a result, Teach First has called on the Department for Education to develop new resources that highlight the roles of women in STEM subjects, designed to close the gender gap and increase female participation in the subjects.
The current biology, physics and chemistry subject content, as well as the combined science: GCSE subject content includes mentions of 14 male scientists or materials named after them, but no mention of women.
Of the double science GCSE specifications, only Rosalind Franklin and Mary Leakey are mentioned, in comparison to more than 40 male scientists.
Teach First executive director Shelly Gonsalves said female role models and science teachers are important when helping to unlock talent and increase STEM skills.
“This matters, because if girls don’t see identifiable role models it’s hard to spark their imaginations to pursue STEM careers in future,” she explained.
According to Teach First, the 2019 curriculum fund should be extended to allow for the development of targeted resources.
The charity also says that the fund should be available to all schools so they can access high quality materials, a change to the current set up where only certain schools can apply.
In addition, they want more science teachers to push STEMinism, as advocates for more women in science, technology, engineering and maths roles that can be dominated by males.
Teach First has also said that tackling gender stereotypes is vital for the economic prosperity of the country.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said that while the number of girls doing STEM subjects at A-level is rising, “we recognise there is more we can do”.
They pointed to the STEM Ambassadors programme, the network of Maths hubs and the Simulating Physics Network as examples of work that are already underway to increase female participation in the sciences.
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