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#StudentTakeover: Q&A - British Science Week

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 March 2018

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City of Westminster College student Carrie-Jayne Crawshaw speaks to UCL Academy chair of governors Lucie Green about the importance of STEM subjects

UCL Academy is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) specialist school, do you think it is important that schools put a focus on this subject?

STEM subjects are at the heart of a healthy society and economy so I think it is right that we shine a spotlight on these subjects, but not at the expense of other areas. At the UCL Academy, based in Swiss Cottage, we focus on the whole student. However, we know that there are lots of great opportunities when it comes to careers in science and that there are skills shortages in this area. So we want to make sure that students who have an interest in science get the very best STEM education.

Statistics say that only 20 per cent of A-level physics students are female, and this hasn’t changed in 25 years. Why do you think this is?

This is a very sad statistic for me. Our girls do very well in STEM subjects at school and, even though they enjoy them, often choose to drop STEM subjects as they get older and when they have a choice. I think that society can often send messages that STEM isn’t for girls. We don’t necessarily even realise that we are doing it, but small comments over a long period of time turn girls away. And people naturally want to be around people like themselves, which means that for a female, working in a male dominated environment may not be appealing.

What do you think can be done to encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers?

I think it is important that we talk to our students about the realities of the situation we find ourselves in, and stress that no one should feel put off from studying and working in the subject area that they enjoy. It is the right of all our students here at UCL Academy to achieve their potential and lead happy and fulfilling lives. We must all be aware of subconscious messages that we send out at school and do our best to make sure that our preconceptions do not turn people away from STEM, or indeed any other subject area.

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