Programmes/reports on increasing girls participation in STEM Subjects: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/01409
Date received: 3 May 2018
Date responded: 4 June 2018

Information requested

1. What steps the Government is taking to increase the number of girls participating in core STEM subjects after the age of 16.

2. Reports to the Minister relating to the performance of programmes to increase the number of girls participating in core STEM subjects after the age of 16.


1. The recommendations of the Scottish Government's Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy published in December 2014 committed the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to work to address gender imbalances at the subject level within College regions through the development of a Gender Action Plan. This was later extended to cover universities as well and was published in August 2016.

A copy of the Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy can be accessed at:

A copy of the SFC Gender Action Plan can be accessed at:

On 26 October 2017, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - Education and Training Strategy for Scotland was published and outlines a programme of actions for education, training and lifelong learning in Scotland to achieve our goals for STEM, including reducing equity gaps in relation to gender. This strategy was informed by responses to a public consultation and input from an Expert Reference Group.

A copy of the strategy can be accessed at:

In addition, the Scottish Government provides funding for, an organisation which seeks to enable women to study and work in STEM sectors by supporting their recruitment, retention and progression. The Scottish Government has allocated £331,000 per annum to support Equate Scotland for the period 2017-2020. This includes funding for, a project which provides summer placements for women studying STEM subjects at Scottish Universities and Colleges and Equate Scotland's project.

2. Reports to the Minister relating to the performance of programmes to increase the number of girls participating in core STEM subjects after the age of 16.

In relation to the SFC Gender Action Plan, the Minister was provided with early sight of the draft Gender Action Plan Progress Report and Technical Report for 2017 on 29 November 2017. A final version was subsequently published on 4 December 2017 and can be accessed at:

A copy of the note to the Minister with the draft reports is included at Appendix 1. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested. This is because it is personal data of a third party, ie names of Scottish Government officials below Senior Civil Service and their direct contact details have been redacted, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

As yet, no reports have been provided to the Minister on performance of individual programmes around equity within the STEM – Education and Traning Strategy. Progress towards delivery of the Strategy will be reported on an annual basis, with the first report due at the end of 2018. A document which sets out the key performance indicators that will be used to measure and monitor progress with delivery was published on 22 December 2017 and can be found at: /publications/stem-strategy-key-performance-indicators/

In relation to gender and equity, this included targets for significant reductions in the equity gaps in participation and achievement in STEM learning, engagement, study, courses and training across all sectors in relation to gender, deprivation, rurality, race, disability and for care leavers:

  • Reduce the gap between the percentage of school leavers with 1 or more award in STEM subjects at SCQF level 6 or better from the least and most deprived SIMD quintiles to 31 percentage points by 2020 and to 25 percentage points by 2022. [Data Source: School Leaver Statistics]
  • Improve the gender balance in attainment in key STEM related subjects at SCQF level 6 by increasing the number of females passing Physics by 15% and Computing by 20%, by 2022. [Data Source: Scottish Qualifications Authority National Qualifications data]
  • Improve the gender balance in STEM subjects studied at college and university. [Data Source: Scottish Funding Council's Gender Action Plan]
  • Increase gender balance in the uptake of STEM related Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities in the senior phase of school. [Data Source: Skills Development Scotland annual Equality Action Plan report]

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 18 01409 - STEM after 16 - Appendix 1.pdf


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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