AM tackles underrepresentation of women in engineering

Mid & West Wales Assembly Member Eluned Morgan joined local school girls, Scarlets Rugby players, Valero Pembroke Refinery, and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board to draw attention to the need to tackle gender inequality in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Only 220 female students over 16 years of age out of a cohort of 38,000 (0.6%) opted to study engineering in Wales in 2015, with only 65 (0.2%) studying for relevant construction industry qualifications. The Assembly Member later asked the Welsh Education Secretary for more female engineer role models to be sent into high schools in Wales.

The two day programme taking place in Parc y Scarlets and Pembrokeshire College ‘Tackling Gender Inequality’, aims to encourage Year 8 female pupils from school across Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen to kick off their interest in a career in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

In the event organised by Engineering Construction Industry Training Board and supported by Valero Pembroke Refinery, Pembrokeshire College and Scarlets Rugby at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli, the students along with Eluned Morgan AM took part in in a training session with female Scarlets players to discover what it takes to succeed as part of a team.

Raising the issue in the Senedd, Eluned later remarked:

 “Choosing the right subjects to study will make a difference to the enjoyment of children in school, but we also need to be encouraging people to study subjects that lead to good and financially rewarding jobs.

 “Despite often outperforming boys at GCSE and A-levels, female pupils remain underrepresented in most Science Technology Engineering ad Maths (STEM) subjects. A lack of exposure to female role models coupled with the perception of engineering as being a masculine profession, means that girls drop relevant subjects after GCSE,  so it’s really important that we do our utmost to encourage young girls to continue with studies that can lead to high quality and highly paid employment.

“I was delighted to take part in the session at Parc Y Scarlets – it provided an excellent opportunity to highlight this issue through the medium of rugby, a sport traditionally seen as a male-dominated.

We must do our utmost to encourage and support young women through creating a more welcoming environment and counteracting negative stereotypes about women’s abilities by making it clear that everyone has the potential to succeed in engineering.”

 *For info based on the Joint Council for Qualifications annual exam results data:

In 2017, only 1,568 students (just 4% of the total 42,500 welsh students) took an A level in physics.

For girls, the figure fell to 339 – 1.5% of the 21,700 girls who sat GCSEs just two years earlier.

The Welsh Government data for post-16 education shows that, in 2015 out of the 80,000 16 year olds who were studying that year:

–          There were 3,315 boys and girls studying engineering subjects –4% of the cohort

–          For girls, the figure was 220 out of a cohort of 38,000 – that’s just 0.6% of the female 16-year-old population of wales in that year.

–          For construction subjects, only 65 girls studied. That’s just 0.2% of the female population

–          For IT subjects, they do slightly better with 305 girls – that’s 0.8%