Willetts champions women in engineering

30 September 2013

Science minister David Willetts has today announced an ambition to double the number of female undergraduates studying engineering and spoke of the need to invest long term to get the next generation doing science and engineering.  The Royal Society has welcomed the move while recognising that achieving the goals will be difficult.

Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said: “Women are underrepresented in physics and engineering and that means that the UK is missing out on some of the best people in fields that are hugely important to our economy.  It is excellent news that the government is being ambitious about tackling this issue.  Much good work has been done in recent years but this is not a problem that can be solved overnight.  It will be difficult to achieve these ambitions but we look forward to doing what we can to help.”

The minister also announced a £200 million capital fund for Universities which will be matched by the Universities seeking the funds.  The award of cash will be linked to action to tackle diversity issues.

A recent report involving the Royal Academy of Engineering showed that only 16% of engineering graduates are women. In physics, a recent Institute of Physics report revealed that for the last 20 years only 20% of students taking A-level physics were girls.

The Royal Society also has a programme of activity designed to promote diversity in UK science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine by seeking to increase participation from underrepresented groups.