HC Deb 16 February 1998 vol 306 c519W
Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he intends to take to encourage more women to undertake degrees in engineering and technology. [29600]

Dr. Howells

The Government acknowledge the need for top class scientists and engineers and the important role that Universities play in helping to bring that about. The Development Unit for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, which operates within the Office of Science and Technology, was established to encourage the increased participation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) at all levels. It has produced various materials to encourage girls to consider engineering and technology as career options.

WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), started in 1984 with support from the former Manpower Services Commission. It has a remit to raise the number of women studying these subjects and, since then, women's representation on these courses in HE has doubled. It continues to receive support from the Department of Trade and Industry.

It is important that industry itself plays a full role in attracting girls to study engineering and technology subjects and that this will lead to satisfying career opportunities. It was unfortunate, for example, that the Women into Technology Foundation was not sustainable without public support. The Government continue to encourage industry to consider what further steps it might take, and to offer appropriate support.

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