Brain Sciences


New educational materials aim to encourage girls' uptake of STEM subjects at A-Levels

5 February 2019

The Rosalind Franklin STEM Ambassadors Workshop launched a new online resource for GCSE-aged girls that explores career pathways and communication skills that are key for success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), last week.

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Through a series of video stories told by relatable female role models and teacher-created lesson plans, students will discover how the STEM subjects they learn in school can lead to exciting careers. Although designed especially for female GCSE-aged students, these resources are available to all learners, free of charge.  

“If we want to achieve trail blazing science, we need the best brains in the world to work on scientific problems,” said Professor Essi Viding, the 2017 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award recipient leading the project. “Lack of diversity in academia is leading us to miss out on exceptional talent that could accelerate scientific discovery.” 

According to research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, many girls start to lose interest in STEM subjects at A-levels. This is in part because of low confidence in their abilities and a concern about being in the minority of a male-dominated area. 

“We hope to help close the gender gap by sharing the excitement of learning STEM subjects with inspiring female role models and providing materials on communication skills essential for obtaining study and employment opportunities,” said Viding. “The online resource will allow us to share our successful workshop content with those who could not attend and provide lesson-ready resources for teachers who may not have the necessary time to develop their own.” 

Students and teachers can access the materials on the Rosalind Franklin STEM Ambassadors website, including curriculum-based lesson plans and supporting materials aimed at Years 10 and 11 on STEM Role Models (40-minutes), by: 

·        Dr. Emma Meaburn / Genetics 

·        Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu / Pharmacology 

·        Dr. Laura Boothman / Health Policy 

·        Professor Essi Viding / Psychology 

·        Professor Sunetra Gupta, Novelist / Mathematics & Biology 

The web resource is Professor Viding’s Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award project to raise the profile of women in (STEM). Twenty Year 11 girls with promising futures from backgrounds currently underrepresented in STEM careers attended a two-day workshop at UCL in September 2018. Digital content created during the workshop formed the basis of the web resource. 

“I have decided to take a science subject even though I was thinking not to before.” 

— A., workshop participant, Year 11 

“Since the workshop, I am motivated to aim higher for a better career path.” 

— C., workshop participant, Year 11