St Margaret's pupils studying science in 1946
St Margaret's pupils studying science in 1946

The all-girls school which is closing the STEM gender gap

St Margaret’s School for Girls in Aberdeen has reported a record-breaking 66% of 2020 pupils went on to pursue STEM-related subjects at Higher Education.

That is 24.4% higher than Scotland’s national average for female enrolment in  science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related subjects, which currently sits at 41.6%.

As the oldest and only all-through girls’ school in Scotland, currently celebrating its 175th anniversary, St Margaret’s is seeing a 16% year-on-year increase in girls pursuing STEM subjects at university from 2019.

At St Margaret’s pupils are given the opportunity to study the three discrete sciences of biology, chemistry and physics from primary seven. However, the school places equal importance on arts and science and on supporting each girl to develop her individual interests and strengths in and out of the classroom.

Opportunities are also offered through extracurricular activities, including competing in the UK CyberFirst Girls coding competition and the Lego League Competition; and participation in the Women in Engineering Conference and Engineering Week.

Anna Tomlinson, head teacher at St Margaret’s School for Girls, said: ‘These results are very encouraging and show that the classroom is a catalyst for change in STEM recruitment and retention of women in the workforce.

‘As is the power of positive role models for young women as they pursue careers in the field of science which is why as a school we actively seek to introduce our pupils to such role models.

St Margaret’s pupils studying science in 1946

‘But not just in STEM subjects, at St Margaret’s, we believe that both the arts and the sciences are important, which is why we value STEAM over STEM. This ensures we offer our pupils a broad education tailored to suit their interests and abilities.

‘We have been teaching girls for 175 years and looking back through the school’s online archive to celebrate our anniversary, it is inspiring to see that even back in the 1940s, science was at the forefront of our education for girls.

‘I hope our continuation of this approach ensures the next generation of women feel empowered to pursue the careers which interest them most, and that we continue to close the gender gap.’

Four pupils from St Margaret’s represented Scotland in the UK Grand Final of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) CyberFirst code-breaking competition, coming third in the UK. After beating 6,00 girls in the qualifying stages, the second-year pupils have combated cryptography and learned to master logic and networking, placing them as the top aspiring codebreakers of their age group in the country.

The school is developing an online archive to celebrate its 175th anniversary and actively seeks submissions from former and current pupils, staff, parents, and friends. You can view the archive HERE.

Submissions to the online library can be made HERE.