It is well documented that there is a gender imbalance in the number of girls doing physics post 16. For the past decade the Institute of Physics has been doing some amazing work in this area, looking at the causes for this lack of uptake and how schools can encourage girls to pursue the subject.
Through their Closing Doors report the Institute of Physics found that schools with a good gender balance in physics tended to also have a good gender balance in other subjects. This lead to the conclusion that girls progressing to A Level physics was determined by the whole school culture, not just what happens in the physics classroom.
From this the Institute of Physics published Opening Doors – a guide to good practice in challenging gender stereotypes in school.
The Institute of Physics and Kings College London developed a charter for schools to follow to show how they are fitting with this good practice. The charter was piloted with a number of London schools in 2017 and working with Jenesys Associates we ran an evaluation to see how schools changed their practice to meet the charter, and what benefits and challenges did they experience in doing so.
The work has been a bit of an eye-opener. The challenges that schools face today have shifted over the years and schools constantly evolve to work with this changing world, but what remains (and will hopefully always be there) is the enthusiasm and energy of teaching and support staff who are dedicated to providing what’s best for their students.