Focus on girls in STEM: Pick up the pace urge school leaders

At the recent Association of State Girls’ Schools annual conference, attendees were urged to speak up to encourage the next generation of female leaders and to raise the profile of girls in STEM.

Focus on girls in STEM: Pick up the pace urge school leaders
At the Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS) annual leadership conference, ASGS co-president and executive headteacher of Wycombe High School, Sharon Cromie, was joined by head girl, Lois Brown, in addressing the issue of girls’ underrepresentation in leadership roles and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.With STEM subjects of increasing importance in a competitive world, we take a look at the STEM agenda and how schools and organisations are aiming to encourage girls in this field in the latest edition of the Relocate Guide to Education & Schools in the UK which you can access for free here.

Ensuring that the needs of girls are properly represented

“The political and economic focus is increasingly on technology and STEM subjects; subjects in which boys outperform girls,” said Ms Cromie. “Girls’ schools need to collaborate, speak up and ensure that the needs of girls are properly represented. In this way we can ensure the pace of change for girls’ education, and future prospects, continues.”The theme of the conference was ‘Leading Girls for Change’, and attendees were urged to recognise the need for change, through finding, developing and enthusing the next generation of girls’ school leaders.Key speakers at the conference included the Right Hon. Baroness Hale of Richmond; Dr Marina Della Giusta, associate professor of economics, University of Reading; and Dame Barbara Stocking, president of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.

Maths hubs: spreading best practice

Talks touched on the continued efforts, from schools and governing bodies, to increase girls’ uptake of subjects such as maths and science, especially beyond GSCE level. Wycombe High School is working to address the lack of women teaching, as well as studying, these subjects. It is one of only 35 Maths Hubs in England – a programme designed to bring together mathematics education professionals in a collaborative national network, to develop and spread excellent practice, for the benefit of all students. 
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Head girl of Wycombe High School, Lois Brown, said, “In the UK, over 38 per cent of serial entrepreneurs are females under the age of 35, the best-selling fiction series of all time (Harry Potter) was written by a woman, and women are increasingly securing the top roles across all areas of society, from industry to the arts, politics to civil service.“However, although women now account for 60 per cent of university graduates, they still only comprise three per cent of leaders worldwide. This gap is the reason it is essential for schools to empower us, not only to consider apprenticeships or to go to university, and then into employment, but also to strive to become the leaders of tomorrow, and not to feel defined by outdated stereotypes or expectations.”Ms Cromie concluded, “Our work at ASGS over this last year has very much had the sense of building capacity to rise to the challenges that continue to face us, and particularly to ensure that we are best placed to provide a 21st century education for our girls and to champion their needs.  We must continue working together to share a common voice on key aspects of girls’ education.”
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