Blog: Why should girls give a quark about Physics?

You know what the energy sector desperately needs? Another balding man in a suit. It sounds like a terrible joke – but it’s not. On the cusp of a whopping […]

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By Vicky Ellis

You know what the energy sector desperately needs? Another balding man in a suit.

It sounds like a terrible joke – but it’s not.

On the cusp of a whopping great shortage of skilled energy workers, we had a ludicrous statistic from the Institute of Physics (IOP) this week: half of the girls in England’s mixed comprehensives don’t take Physics A-level.

That simply cannot be because they’re not good enough at the science. (My mum’s a smart-ass Physics teacher so I should know.)

The Institute tells us that in 2011, physics was the fourth most popular subject for A-level among boys in English schools. For girls it was 19th favourite.

What that translates to is a conference room full of balding men with a host of younger girls in PR checking their bosses are saying the right thing.

It translates into fit young women with big boobs, false eyelashes and a megawatt tan promoting energy brands at events while the men get on with doing the deals.

It translates into female reporters sometimes getting confused with event organisers by important men sweeping past – because that’s all they can be there for, right?

But who cares? Let the boys get on with the dirty subject of science, while girls make it pretty.

Or not – as experts believe the lack of girls in subjects like Physics is jeopardising the country’s skills base.

Professor Sir Peter Knight, President of the Institute of Physics believes that “many girls across the country are not receiving what they’re entitled to – an inspiring education in physics.”

In turn this means less girls studying the subject, “denying them individual opportunities and contributing to the UK’s shortage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills.”

So I’m putting forward a radical new idea.

Getting more girls into Physics would singlehandedly taking down two negatives – not enough skilled people and not enough girls – in one sweep.

Perhaps this might be a time for new Energy Minister John Hayes, formerly responsible for skills at BIS, to put his shoulder to the wheel?