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1/2 of all state schools have no girls sitting physics A level

(392 Posts)
Himalaya Wed 03-Oct-12 08:46:52


Just listening on the radio. sad

Thoughts? Experience? Ideas?

TheSmallPrint Wed 03-Oct-12 14:27:44

Anyone doing A level physics at our school also had to do first year A level maths as the mechanics part tied in. They were allowed to drop it after AO level. I did further maths also.

Annunziata Wed 03-Oct-12 14:31:51

My DD was only one of 3 girls in a class of 20 taking Higher Physics (Scotland.) There are 4 girls in her class of 400 (engineering at uni). It's shocking.

ouryve Wed 03-Oct-12 14:32:42

Bonsoir - it's taught right from year 1. It's just not called physics.

LittleFrieda Wed 03-Oct-12 14:33:13

Slubber grin

Mumzy - and the downside was she was never short of boyfriends. grin

LittleFrieda Wed 03-Oct-12 14:39:09

The jobs that lead on from physics A level are portrayed as being only for people who wear unfashionable shoes. I'm sure that has something to do with it.

ByTheWay1 Wed 03-Oct-12 14:39:53

We chose our daughter's secondary school partly BECAUSE 3 girls sat physics last year (out of 8) - the other 3 secondaries in the area had no girls sitting physics OR chemistry. Two of them had no physics entries at A level at all....

TheSmallPrint Wed 03-Oct-12 14:40:41

I'm an architect, I don't think I wear unfashionable shoes grin

Annunziata Wed 03-Oct-12 14:43:03

Didn't you see the cracking advert about girls in science for the EU, Frieda? It thought shoes were really important....

It made DD very cross.

ijustwant8hours Wed 03-Oct-12 14:45:38

I did A level physics 15 years ago, i was the only girl in the class and the only one not doing maths. The teacher made us watch a video of a woman running topless to illustrate the concept of oscillation. I quite liked being the only girl but nobody seemed to realise that the reason i was behind the others was that i hadnt done the mechanics in maths that they had!

I dropped out before sitting the exam and have always regretted it. I am planning on sitting AS level physics in the summer!

Slubberdegullion Wed 03-Oct-12 14:48:36

Jesus wept. That advert is beyond depressing. I am doing learning science all wrong.

<opens text book and blows blusher all over it>
<bites sunglasses saucily>

Numberlock Wed 03-Oct-12 14:49:49

Is there any point taking physics though if you don't want to do a physics degree/become a physics teacher?

You could say that about any subject though. That's like saying there's no point studying any A Level subjects unless you're going to do further study or become a teacher.

(And I'm not even going to comment on the masculine and feminine subjects comment....)

Jolibee Wed 03-Oct-12 14:52:59

I don't have the A level stats but it appears the porblem starts before A level.
In England at GCSE this year 79290 boys took Physics and only 69889 girls.
Interestingly there was a slight gender inbalance in the results with 16% of boys receiving an A* and 21% of girls. Even more stiking is 91% of pupils managed A*-C.

duchesse Wed 03-Oct-12 14:55:30

I'm not sure that very many state pupils are taking physics anyway, so that in itself could ensure a vanishingly small number of girls taking. The cure to my mind is to improve the teaching of sciences in state schools full stop, not to focus on girls as a group. Pupils are likely to be realistic in their choices at A level and if their science education to 16 has been woeful, they will realise that A level is a bit too much for them.

MammaBrussels Wed 03-Oct-12 15:19:09

Jolibee most schools enter students for combined sciences at GCSE. In my experience only the brightest, most able students are entered for single science GCSEs so they tend to get very high grades. As the brightest students there should be a high proportion of A*-C grades. The cohort taking single science papers isn't representative of the national cohort.

NymphadoraTonks Wed 03-Oct-12 15:33:21

My younger sister did A Level physics. She had quite a few girls in her class too. Shame that seems to be unusual!

LittleFrieda Wed 03-Oct-12 15:55:47

That advert is very depressing. I hope my six year old daughter chooses to study sciences at A level as both my sons have.

strictlovingmum Wed 03-Oct-12 16:01:51

DS also doing Physics at A level (A2) , 24 boys split into two groups, no girls whatsoever, also worth mentioning Physics at A level is very Mech.Maths heavy, so hard going over all.
I remember when we went for a open evening and had a look around his current (excellent) Sixth form, we were shown around Physics department and Lab exclusively by current students all of them boys.
I don't like this current concept/trend at all, it promotes unhealthy wide gender gap in the field of Physical Science and it falsely paints the very inaccurate picture, boys being "Superior beings, only ones fit to study such hard and demanding subject/Physics.
It has to change.

Durab Wed 03-Oct-12 16:06:24

I did A-level physics, I was one of 3 girls in my O-Level physics class and and the only girl at A-level, although it was small class, only 6 of us altogether.

This was 20+ years ago, but even then I honestly don't think it was because girls were encouraged less or had less opportunity. I was the A-level teacher's favourite by far because I loved his subject and was good at it. He probably gave me far more attention that he did the boys, but that was because they were less enthusiastic, nothing to do with gender. Other girls just didn't feel that way about it and chose A-level subjects they were interested in. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

My question would, be why does it matter if girls don't do physics? Provided the opportunity is there if they want to (which it was IME 20+ years ago) why should they do a subject they just aren't interested in? Some girls (and boys) like football, others don't. That's just a fact, it doesn't need solving. Sometimes men and women are different and like different things, that's a fact too. Today there are plenty of opportunities for women (and men) who want to work outside of traditional gender roles, that doesn't mean we should insist that everyone does or should want to.

Lilymaid Wed 03-Oct-12 16:08:29

Is there any point taking physics though if you don't want to do a physics degree/become a physics teacher?

DS took it for A level - he's an economist now. The City loves people who are numerate and who have A Levels/degrees in numerate subjects.

Anyway, I can't see the problem with taking a "hard" A level that deals with the meaning of life, the universe ....

IShallWearMidnight Wed 03-Oct-12 16:16:17

DD took physics because there wasn't a third Maths A level she could do, and it was the least worst option of the rest of her choices grin. Mind you, she's dropped a maths course at university for quantum physics "because it's easier" confused.

cakeandcustard Wed 03-Oct-12 16:16:47

I did Physics A-level and I loved it. I think its horrendous that as soon as you start discussing it all the old stereotypical views about it being not for girls and dry/abstract, for people in 'sensible shoes' hmm. Half the problem is that the female population are persuading themselves out of studying the subject.

I think boys are encouraged from a young age to play with moving cars and constructing lego and electronics kits in a way girls aren't. If we gave girls bits of wire and batteries to play with they'd probably get a better feel for it later on. My dad did a degree in Physics and explained how things work to us from a very early age - he found it fascinating therefore so did I, I suppose.

Maths is much more dry and abstract and there's about a 50-50 split studying that at undergraduate level.

minipie Wed 03-Oct-12 16:17:26

I did A level Physics. Not for career or degree reasons but because I think it's great.

My school had about 12 girls out of a year group of 90 something taking Physics. I think 2 of the 12 went on to do it at university (though I agree it's still useful/interesting even if it's not leading to a Physics based degree or career). Pretty good statistics.

But then, mine was an all girls school. So I guess it reinforces the conclusion that it's about girls "dumbing down", particularly in "geeky" or traditionally "male" subjects, in mixed sex schools sad

<adds another mental reason to send DD to an all female school>

minipie Wed 03-Oct-12 16:18:37

My dad did a degree in Physics and explained how things work to us from a very early age - he found it fascinating therefore so did I, I suppose.

me too cake!

I loved Maths too. Is there really a 50/50 split at undergrad level in Maths? That surprises me, at my uni there were way more boys.

maillotjaune Wed 03-Oct-12 16:21:45

When I was in the 6th form several of the girls who were studying sciences were given the chance to go on a Women in Science and Engineering thing at Imperial College. Does anyone know if they still exist or if there is a similar organisation these days?

I don't really understand why girls don't want to do physics, it's very depressing really.

wanderingalbatross Wed 03-Oct-12 16:26:50

I'm an engineer, and have always found myself in a minority, but never the only female. e.g. when I did a-level physics, there were 2/8 in the class, and me and the other girl were the best in the class so all the boys respected us. Never bothered me that I was in a minority, but I have quite a stubborn streak and tend to do stuff anyway.

I love being able to do practical stuff and get paid for it, and I never found any of the physics/maths too dry and abstract. I think it is elegant and very satisfying to be able to put lots of different complicated ideas together in an equation or two smile

I do some science outreach as part of my job, but to an adult audience. I'd love to get involved in outreach with teenagers, especially girls, as I remember that some of the courses and events I did as a teenage girl really helped me decide what field to go into. Does anyone know of anything I can get involved in?

Oh, and I like shoes and maths grin

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