Some extracts from Nicky Morgan’s speech at the launch of Your Life campaign:
Even a decade ago, young people were told that maths and the sciences were simply the subjects you took if you wanted to go into a mathematical or scientific career, if you wanted to be a doctor, or a pharmacist, or an engineer.
But if you wanted to do something different, or even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do, and let’s be honest – it takes a pretty confident 16-year-old to have their whole life mapped out ahead of them – then the arts and humanities were what you chose. Because they were useful for all kinds of jobs.
Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths.
Fewer than two thirds of girls who achieved an A* in maths GCSE went on to study it at A level. And yet maths, as we all know, is the subject that employers value most, helping young people develop skills which are vital to almost any career. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – studies show that pupils who study maths to A level will earn 10% more over their lifetime.
If we want to make the most of half of our workforce, if we want to eliminate the gender pay gap and if we want that same half of the workforce to succeed in jobs that boost our economy, then we must make sure that teenage girls don’t feel, and certainly aren’t told, that certain subjects are the preserve of men.
To tackle those tired stereotypes of careers in STEM subjects, Your Life will be working with businesses from across the country to create opportunities for under-represented groups, including women, to see the benefits of studying STEM first hand and ensure that work experience and apprenticeship opportunities are open to everyone.