Selective schooling and a lack of encouragement is to blame for a disproportionately low number of women pursuing a career in engineering, one of the country's leading experts has said.
Women in Britain account for just eight per cent of engineers, compared with around 20 per cent in other European countries.
Prof Dame Ann Dowling, the Royal Academy of Engineering's first female president, said she was "concerned" that young women in particular were giving up on physics at the age of 14 or 15.
Speaking to Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, she said: "Girls do very well at GCSE science but a small number, only 20 per cent, continue physics on into the sixth form. And physics and maths are the standard entry to do a degree in engineering.
"I am concerned that young women in particular are giving up physics and probably making these decisions when they're 14 or 15."
Young children are "natural engineers" and need encouragement to develop their desire to create and design, she added.
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Schools minister Nick Gibb has revealed that "seven out of eight schools are refusing to close" despite a teachers' strike.
Responding to an urgent question in the House of Commons about the strike, Mr Gibb paid tribute to the "dedication of the vast majority of teachers and head teachers".
The industrial action by the NUT is pointless but it is far from inconsequential - it disrupts children's education, it inconveniences parents and it damages the profession's reputation in the eyes of the public.
But because of the dedication of the vast majority of teachers and head teachers, our analysis shows that seven out of eight schools are refusing to close.
As a nationwide teachers' strike continues, the Education Department has said that out of the 21,957 publicly funded schools:
Teachers are on their way to Parliament Square to demonstrate against the government's education policy.
ITV News' Charlene White tweeted a video of the protesters as they made their way through Regent Street.
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