We know that women are underrepresented in economics, particularly those from state-funded schools. Indeed, almost 1/3 of A-level economics teaching takes place in the independent sector and only 31 per cent of A-level entrants are female. It is worth noting that the young women who do study economics at A-level get better results than their male counterparts.
This under-representation of women in economics continues at university and into the job market. The latest data available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows a fairly steady participation rate of c. 33 per cent of UK economics undergraduates being female (compared with 21 per cent for physics and 37 per cent for mathematics). One way to address this might be to give more young women from state schools the opportunity to see economics ‘in action’.
An increasingly convincing body of work suggests that work experience helps young people make choices about school subjects and their future careers. When work placements are both high quality and meaningful they can have a notable impact on young people’s aspirations.
For 20 years, Nuffield Research Placements have helped young people apply their academic skills and knowledge to ‘live’ research projects in a range of environments from laboratories to think tanks.
The placements are open to high attaining young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are in the first year of a post-16 STEM course at a state-maintained school or college. Every year, we place around 1,000 across the UK with a broad 50:50 male:female split. With more placement providers, we’d be able to give even more young people this opportunity.
By hosting a female Nuffield student, you will gain valuable research assistance at the same time as inspiring the next generation of female economists from outside the independent school system.
We would like to work with the Royal Economic Society and members to source up to 20 placements — which typically last 4-5 weeks across the summer holidays. Placements should focus on a real research topic and students present a report based on their work to peers at a celebration event.
The Foundation and its network of national Coordinators will identify students and work with hosts to develop the placements. We will also provide a bursary for students during their placements, and travel and subsistence costs are also covered.
If you are interested in inspiring the next generation of economists please get in touch to find out more by contacting the Head of Student Programmes, Simon Gallacher.
The interim NRP evaluation report has just been published and can be viewed on the Nuffield website.