IRIS helps increase girls taking engineering degrees by 200%

New research from IRIS shows that the number of girls accepting places for engineering degrees has grown exponentially since 2012

The Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) has revealed new details of an evaluation of their research projects with school students. Since 2012, the number of girls who have participated in research projects using real scientific data and have accepted places to studying engineering at university, has increased by 200%. 

The mission of IRIS is to provide access to genuine scientific data to students in schools across the UK. Recently, the organisation made the news after a student working with NASA data in an IRIS project, observing background radiation both on Earth and in space, found an anomaly in the data that allowed NASA to address issues in its measurements.

Other figures revealed in the IRIS evaluation demonstrate that schools working with the organisation for four or more years saw increases in students taking STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) subjects at A level from anywhere between 60 and 130%.  Further highlights from the evaluation include: 

  • Accepted offers for STEM subjects have increased by 10 – 40% at schools who work with IRIS
  • Accepted offers for Medicine have increased by 17% in IRIS schools
  • The number of IRIS students going on to study Engineering at university has increased by 51% with a 200% increase in the number of young women
  • Schools with a four year or longer relationship with IRIS show a 60 – 130% increase in the uptake of STEM subjects at A level

Director for IRIS, Becky Parker, has been working in a variety of schools and universities to encourage the study of STEM subjects for many years. In response to this evaluation, she said: “This analysis is a testament to what our young people are capable of. In my opinion, GCSE science has very little relevance to real-world science, but by working with a genuine scientific research, students are given the chance to tackle new challenges, and to take ownership of what they’re working on. While the Government insists upon students ‘learning their times tables’, the young people we have in our projects are saying ‘let’s use neural networks to analyse this data.’ We need to stop underestimating what they can do when they are given this freedom.”

For more information on the IRIS projects, you can visit