Only nine per cent of the science and engineering apprenticeships in Cornwall over the last five years were taken up by women, figures show.

Across England, apprenticeships as a whole are evenly split between men and women, but female representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics apprenticeships – known as Stem subjects – remains low.

In Cornwall, 4,080 Stem apprenticeships were started over the last five years – and just 350 were taken up by women, according to the latest data by the Department for Education.

Female representation varied between years, but remained low. It reached its highest in 2016-17 at 10 per cent, and was lowest in 2018-19 at just eight per cent.

Meanwhile, women took 49 per cent of apprenticeships in all subjects in Cornwall.

Across England, the percentage of Stem apprenticeships taken by women varied considerably, but in no area did they represent more than a quarter of apprentices.

Seven areas, including Epsom and Ewell, Hastings, Maldon, Mole Valley, Runnymede, Rutland and West Somerset, had no female Stem apprentices over the last four years. At the other end, Crawley had the highest female representation, at 23 per cent.

Numbers in the statistics have been rounded, and data for the last quarter of 2018-19 is not included.

Apprenticeships last an average of two years, and when completed those taking them are awarded a qualification. Over the four years, 2,490 Stem apprenticeship qualifications were achieved in Cornwall, only 190 of which were by women.

Ana Osbourne, from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said: "Research has shown that the language used in job adverts can make the job more or less appealing to one gender and therefore discourage women from applying for certain jobs.

"We are looking at how this applies to the wording in apprenticeships – including for Stem apprenticeships, where the number of women is lower."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Our ambition is to make sure that everyone, regardless of their background or gender, is able to fulfil their potential and get the skills and training they need to build a successful career.

"We want to encourage more women to take Stem apprenticeships and tackle gender disparities."

The spokesperson added that the department's Diversity Champions Network encourages more people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women and members of the BAME communities, to consider apprenticeships.