Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Steer Girls Away from Psychology'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Steer Girls Away from Psychology'

Article excerpt

We need them in 'hard' sciences, argues former Harrow head

Schools should persuade girls considering studying psychology to switch to "hard sciences" such as physics, the chair of the Independent Schools Council has said.

Barnaby Lenon, ISC chair and the former headmaster of Harrow, told TES that too many girls who were capable of getting good grades in physics and chemistry were taking psychology instead, making it more difficult for them to gain places on university courses such as medicine and engineering.

Mr Lenon said the problem needed to be addressed in order to bring more women into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers.

According to the Wise campaign group to get more women into Stem, just 14.4 per cent of the workforce in these areas is female. Mr Lenon said that independent schools had helped to increase the number of girls studying sciences but this was not mirrored in the state sector.

"If there's a large group of girls missing from physics A-level, what are they doing?" Mr Lenon said, adding that psychology was "the most likely alternative" as more than three-quarters of entrants for A-level psychology this year were female.

"Girls who should be doing physics are doing psychology," he said. "It's a problem for the hard sciences and it's a problem for the girls who might have the potential to become doctors or engineers, because the hard sciences are a better qualification for obtaining a university place [to study] those subjects."

'Part of the problem'

Figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, show that nearly four-fifths of entrants for A-level physics exams in 2015 were male. …

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