Charity and IoP open up physics to girls

15 April 2014

Pilot programme aims to redress gender imbalance in the number of female students choosing to study A-level physics.

A pilot programme designed to counter the factors that turn many schoolgirls away from physics is due to run over the next three years. The Institute of Physics (IoP) has received a donation of £201,000 from the Drayson Foundation, a  charity set up by Paul and Elspeth Drayson to support projects, primarily in the fields of healthcare and the education of young people.
The funds will enable the Institute to work with six secondary and a selection of primary schools in the Thames Valley region to find ways of reducing the gender imbalance of students progressing to physics A-level.
The IOP will run a selection of activities to build girls’ confidence in the classroom, while also raising awareness of potential gender biases across the whole school.
Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, said, “This new approach uses the most recent evidence that we have to help open up the subject to everyone, especially girls.”
In 2013, physics was the second most popular A-level subject for boys but languished in 17th place for girls.
The initiative is seeking  to address the endemic problem in three different ways. Firstly by increasing the confidence of secondary school girls in the subject and address the issue themselves, in part by acting as ambassadors for physics during visits to primary schools.
The IOP will work with and train teachers to ensure that teaching methods appeal to girls as much as boys by sharing best classroom practice. Finally, the Institute will work with senior management teams to combat gender stereotyping in all subjects.

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