All MATRIX reports completed to date have highlighted the issue of STEM skills shortages. Futhermore, a significant gender imbalance across the STEM skills pipeline has been identified as a cross cutting element of these shortages. The 2016 AMME and Digital ICT reports have both documented a continued, poor representation of women, an issue which merits further examination.
If we can encourage women into STEM and subsequently remain in this skills pipeline, we could go a long way to solving the skills shortages.
Did you know…?
In 1999, 11,943 boys and 11,104 girls were born in Northern Ireland.
In 2014/15, 87.6%* of the girls (9,647) took STEM GCSEs, compared to 91%* (10,873) of the boys.
But when it came to Core STEM A levels or FE vocational exams in 2016/17, only 30.7%* (3,376) of girls took one. That compares starkly to the 85%* (10,221) of boys who did so.
So the decline in girls participating in Core STEM between GCSE & A Level/FE is anticipated to be 65%, compared to a 6% drop off for boys.
The gender imbalance in Core STEM participants can never recover from this catastrophic decline, so to understand the imbalance we must understand what puts girls off Core STEM at GCSE/A level/FE.