STEM is a widely used acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Only 14.4% of people working in STEM are women and disappointingly in Q1 of 2018/19 data from Skills Development Scotland on Modern Apprenticeships indicates that of 60 people starting engineering and energy related apprenticeships none of them were female.
Studies have attempted to explain this persistent difference with some people claiming that boys are just biologically better at STEM than girls. Widespread testing has disproved this notion finding instead that girls perform better than boys in classrooms when studying STEM subjects (See PISA results). But when it comes to tests and exams girls don’t maintain this level of performance. It has been suggested that this difference arises from confidence and anxiety towards testing. (Article in the Guardian). This difference in confidence was also highlighted in an article (Tes) with regard to performance in physics.
In England, fewer girls take STEM A levels than boys but this difference is much less evident in SQA statistics for Higher subjects. Together with initiatives such as Stemettes things are looking good for an improved gender balance in STEM careers in Scotland.