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STEM education in England: questioning the “leaky pipeline” metaphor

STEM education in England: questioning the “leaky pipeline” metaphor The skillsets of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates are widely recognised to be important for economic prosperity. At the same time, it is broadly accepted that in England there is a need to increase the number of people studying STEM degree courses and working in STEM. However, despite decades of interventions post-16, STEM participation rates remain lower than projected requirements. Some research reports suggest a lack of positive attitudes towards these subjects and aspirations amongst some social groups. As these debates continue, official reports such as those released by the Department for Education show these patterns from the labour market and higher education (HE) extend to both attainment and participation in science and math in school.Design/methodology/approachIn this paper, the authors summarise the authors' findings from the analysis of official reports, policy documents and major research reports focussing on attainment in school science and math and post-compulsory STEM participation.FindingsThe authors identify the problematic ways in which STEM subject choices are made across the student life cycle and then discuss how the leaky pipeline metaphor can be ambiguous and needs to be used with caution.Research limitations/implicationsSome aspects identified here warrant further research and will be of particular interest to researchers, practitioners and policymakers.Originality/valueIn this new report, the authors identify the problematic ways in which STEM subject choices are made across the student life cycle in England and then discuss how the leaky pipeline metaphor can be ambiguous and needs to be used with caution. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Education + Training Emerald Publishing

STEM education in England: questioning the “leaky pipeline” metaphor

Education + Training , Volume 65 (8/9): 15 – Nov 20, 2023

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References (60)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0040-0912
DOI
10.1108/et-03-2023-0079
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The skillsets of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates are widely recognised to be important for economic prosperity. At the same time, it is broadly accepted that in England there is a need to increase the number of people studying STEM degree courses and working in STEM. However, despite decades of interventions post-16, STEM participation rates remain lower than projected requirements. Some research reports suggest a lack of positive attitudes towards these subjects and aspirations amongst some social groups. As these debates continue, official reports such as those released by the Department for Education show these patterns from the labour market and higher education (HE) extend to both attainment and participation in science and math in school.Design/methodology/approachIn this paper, the authors summarise the authors' findings from the analysis of official reports, policy documents and major research reports focussing on attainment in school science and math and post-compulsory STEM participation.FindingsThe authors identify the problematic ways in which STEM subject choices are made across the student life cycle and then discuss how the leaky pipeline metaphor can be ambiguous and needs to be used with caution.Research limitations/implicationsSome aspects identified here warrant further research and will be of particular interest to researchers, practitioners and policymakers.Originality/valueIn this new report, the authors identify the problematic ways in which STEM subject choices are made across the student life cycle in England and then discuss how the leaky pipeline metaphor can be ambiguous and needs to be used with caution.

Journal

Education + TrainingEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 20, 2023

Keywords: STEM; Leaky pipeline; School; Higher education; Participation; Attainment; Education

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