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Five times the number of female university applicants in 2013 had an A level in biology compared to physics, according to analysis released by UCAS last week.

Over 27,000 18 year old female applicants held biology whilst around 18,800 and 5,400 held chemistry and physics respectively. Roughly equal numbers of males (between 18,000 and 20,000) held A levels in each of the three sciences. 15.9% of females with three or more distinct A levels held biology, compared to 10.6% of males.

The percentage of female applicants with biology A level has consistently risen since 2009. However among males, this peaked in 2012 and has since fallen.

Although it is encouraging that biology continues to be popular for females at A level, these results are surprising given the persisting lack of women in senior bioscience positions. The Society of Biology remains concerned about the continued loss of women from the scientific workforce and the low number that progress to decision-making positions in universities, research institutes, government and business.

The Society is committed to ensuring equal opportunities in the life sciences, and supports diversity throughout the pipeline; at school and higher education, in the workplace and training.

In October, the Society of Biology became a signatory of the Science Council's Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

Earlier this year, the Society also became a signatory of the ‘Your Life’ campaign: a three year campaign to ensure the UK has the maths and science skills it needs to succeed in a competitive global economy. It will talk to 14-16 year olds to redefine how young people understand science and engineering careers and help employers recruit and retain talent, particularly women.

See a full summary of our Equality & Diversity work and our Women in Biology work so far.

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