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Girls in Physics

Girls in Physics

Addressing the gender issue is an important challenge. Currently only 22% of A-level candidates are girls. Whilst physics is the sixth most popular A-level with boys, it is the 19th most popular with girls.
However, the research suggests that there are no simple solutions. Girls cite a range of explanations for their lack of participation in physics. These include:

  • the lack of relevance of physics to themselves as individuals;
  • the lack of relevance to what they want to do in life and in their career;
  • not enjoying physics lessons; and
  • not feeling confident in their own abilities.

Given the broad range of issues that need to be tackled, we believe that the solution must be holistic. It would be neither plausible nor desirable to categorise large numbers of girls and provide targeted remedial action. What will persuade one girl to continue with physics will not work for another. Therefore, we propose working with schools to put a range of measures in place that will address the issues above.

To find out more about the Girls in Physics project, please visit the IOP website.

Action Research Programme

In July 2011, the Stimulating Physics Network initiated an action research programme focused on Girls in Physics. Teachers from 23 Partner Schools worked with Teaching and Learning Coaches to explore the particular circumstances that might influence the uptake of A-level physics by girls, and evaluate the impact of different interventions intended to increase girls' engagement with physics.

The interim report (November 2012) is available online, and highlights the importance of:

  • Planning and reflection - physics teachers considering gender issues in their teaching;
  • Intellectual engagement - communicating the nature of physics through high-quality and enthusiastic teaching;
  • Life choices - raising girls' awareness of the relevance of physics to their future.

A final report will be published in 2013. We therefore invite submissions from any participating Partner School who has not yet completed an action research report, and further reports from those who have. We also invite interested Partner Schools to develop their own action research project through discussion with their dedicated Teaching and Learning Coach.

For more information, contact David Cameron; tel.020 7470 4899.