Girls in Science at The Oxbridge Online School

Author: Oxbridge Online School |

Blog by Oxbridge Online School

11th February marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This is a subject very close to our hearts at the Oxbridge Online School and it has inspired us to dedicate this month’s blog to talking about it in a bit more length.

Women in science today are fantastic role models for girls and young women looking to follow in their footsteps. For example, Professors Sarah Gilbert and Teresa Lamb, who pioneered the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford – moving at an incredible pace to come to the aid of people all over the world. Professor Gilbert herself has described several times when her path nearly led away from science, and how different influences and circumstances intervened each time to pull her back towards this path. It’s troubling to think what might have happened if Professor Gilbert hadn’t stayed in the sciences, and it brings home how important all of the influences in young women and girls’ lives are, and our roles in encouraging them to keep going – making careers in science normal and aspirational.

Blog by Oxbridge Online School

Without women in science, we are at a huge disadvantage when tackling our greatest challenges – not just future pandemics, but many others – especially the threat of climate change. There is still a massive shortage of women and girls choosing paths into science. Unfortunately, our plethora of brilliant women scientists aren’t generally the role models that younger women and girls seek out or identify with. For a range of reasons – internet culture, engrained gender roles etc – girls’ role models are far more likely to come from the world of celebrities, and superficial, bodily pursuits are still widely prioritised over pursuits of the mind.

While this is a deeply rooted, societal issue which will take a long time and very complex processes to be unravelled, at the Oxbridge Online School Online School, we think that online schooling can help. Online school is a great leveller for students – and this can be manifested in many ways – differences in what students may be wearing, what kind of bag they have, how they interact socially etc. are softened by the online platform – which immediately leads to less bullying and less self-consciousness among students. Whatever students have going on in their personal lives, we find that when they ‘plug in’ for school they become a student in our school over and above anything else, and are ready to learn.

Of course, online school doesn’t have the ability to undo the societal pressures students may feel. But, when it comes to gender norms, the platform goes some way towards suspending these for the duration of the school day – as our students are not physically in the classroom their gender difference is more subtle. Online school also softens the impact of changes which occur in puberty, which can have a negative effect especially on girls when they have to deal with them in the often uncaring and hectic environments of traditional schools. Our team of teachers and brilliant learning support staff see each student as an individual – our small class sizes mean we can always monitor how they may be feeling, and being at home means that if anything disruptive does happen, it isn’t so overwhelming and can be dealt with tact and empathy.

This all adds up to students being able to concentrate longer and more often on the things that matter, without some of the social pressures that come with traditional schools. We also have teachers that are some of the leading actors in their fields, having been to the world’s top universities – including women in the sciences. We have seen that if we give female students real space to explore the sciences with the best teachers available, we produce lots of brilliant young women who go onto study the sciences at the top universities – where they have the best chance of following in the footsteps of people like professors Gilbert and Lamb.

At the Oxbridge Online School, we build everything around our ability to get all of our students into the best universities possible.


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