The number of female students choosing to study agricultural science as a Leaving Certificate subject has increased by 56% over the last decade, according to figures released by the Department of Education.
Numbers of female students taking the subject at second level have increased steadily year-on-year, from 4,255 in 2011 to 6,636 in September 2020. While the figures for the current academic year’s cohort are provisional, it is understood the upward trend has continued.
Meanwhile, the number of male students taking the Leaving Certificate subject has increased by 24% over the same period, from 7,915 in 2011 to 9,816 in 2020.
The increase in interest in the subject among young women has led to agricultural science classes with a more balanced 6:4 (male to female) split for what would traditionally have been a subject with a much higher proportion of male students.
Leaving Certificate agricultural science involves the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture. It traditionally includes a project component as well as a written exam.
Elsewhere, the number of students taking agricultural science as a Leaving Certificate subject at higher level increased by 43% over the last decade, according to State Examinations Commission figures. Some 7,553 students took the subject at higher level in 2021, a significant increase from the 5,287 who did so in 2011.
The number taking the subject at ordinary level has decreased from 1,186 to 915 over the same period.
The jump in the uptake of the subject at higher level (up 43%) is well ahead of the increase in overall numbers sitting Leaving Certificate exams at the same time (up 6.25%).