Jonathan Clarke, Principal Designate of UTC@harbourside.

Can UTCs help close the engineering gender gap?

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) can play a key role bringing more women into engineering says the Principal Designate of UTC@harbourside.

Jonathan Clarke, principal designate of Newhaven’s UTC@harbourside, due to open next September, says by taking pupils at 14 they can offer girls the chance to develop their interests in science, engineering and technology before their perceptions of what a suitable career might be have hardened.

“Girls are equally talented in maths and science, more often than not outperforming boys at GCSE and A level, and are extremely enthusiastic about these subjects when they are younger. Speaking to many 15- and 16-year-old girls at option evenings I have found that lots are still keen on STEM subjects. At UTC@harbourside we will enable girls who are interested in science and technology to make the choice before they are put off by perceptions and attitudes that engineering is a career for men, not women,” Clarke said.

Surveys earlier this year confirmed that girls at UTCs feel more positive about their chances of getting jobs in engineering, technology and science than those at mainstream schools. Two surveys commissioned by the Baker Dearing Trust found that 65 per cent of girls in UTCs believe they have the same job opportunities in engineering as boys. Just 43 per cent of girls in mainstream schools felts they had the same opportunities in the industry.

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