Almost one in four of all new undergraduate students (23.8% average in physics, 24.8% average in astronomy) entering the School each year is female, which is in line with the UK average, and the percentage progression rate from 1st to 2nd year, and from 2nd to 3rd year is the same for male and for female students, within statistical fluctuations. Male and female students also show the same preferences for single versus combined degrees, and for Honours versus Masters degrees, indicating that all students take advantage of our flexible range of degrees in similar ways. This suggests that although only a quarter of our intake is female, those that join us are in no way disadvantaged and have the same chances as their male peers.
First Year Classes
Percentages are very stable over many years, with just small number statistical fluctuations, but no significant trends.
Total student numbers have increased significantly since 2008, but this has not affected the female proportion in our entry classes.
Second Year Classes
Numbers being smaller in year 2 classes, statistical fluctuations between years can be large, especially for the smaller Astronomy 2 class. Nevertheless, female percentages are generally fairly stable around 20-25%, as for Year 1 Classes. The high ratio in 2015/2016 correlates to the high ratio in year 1 in 2014/2015, and whilst encouraging, is not yet deemed a significant long-term variation.
There has been a huge increase in the size of second year classes since about 2008. This is partially down to the increase in first year class sizes from this date on, but must also reflect improved retention of students from year 1 to year 2 in that time. Seeing as the proportions of females in year 2 has not changed significantly in the same time period, it would seem that this improvement in retention has impacted female and male students similarly.
As for lower years, the percentage of female students in our honours classes is about 20-25%. These graphs are made by aggregating all honours classes together, including physics, astronomy and all combined degrees involving one or both subjects (otherwise the graphs will become very complex and the small numbers on many combined programmes will lead to huge year to year variations that make trends difficult to discern). In recent years, there is a weak trend that female students are slightly better represented in the MSci degree stream than in the BSc degree stream.