The proportion of British women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has risen to 6.4 per cent from 6.1 per cent in the last year, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.
The figure is higher than the United States at 6.3 per cent and France at 6 per cent.
The UK had the highest proportion among OECD countries at 6 percent, but the figures also show that a majority of British men do not have any professional experience.
The report also found that the proportion of people in the workforce with postgraduate qualifications has risen from 20.6 per cent to 22.5 per cent, which is higher by 1.2 percentage points than the OECD average.
It also found the number of graduates aged 18-24 has risen by 8.6 percentage points since 2013, from about 7 per cent of the population to about 9 per cent now.
The number of postgraduates aged 25 and over rose from about 17.5 percent to about 18.5, while the number aged 55 and over also increased.
The figures show that in 2015, nearly half of the UK population had completed a postgraduate qualification, which was up from 36.7 per cent the previous year.
The increase in the proportion working in postgraduate degrees was partly driven by the UK’s “gig economy” where people can work on their own for little to no pay and get full-time jobs with benefits.
The government announced in June that it would cap the number working in the gig economy at 25,000 by 2020.
This year, the government has said it will also make it illegal to work for an employer who does not offer full-year jobs.
There are a number of reasons why there are higher numbers of women working STEM subjects in the UK, the report said.
The biggest was the fact that the UK had been doing much more to recruit women into the science and technology fields.
There was also a growing demand from businesses for women in these fields, which could mean that a higher proportion of graduates will come from women’s colleges, or university campuses.
“The higher proportion in the STEM field is a result of the fact we have more young people doing STEM subjects,” said Rebecca Ruggles, the chief executive of the Women in Science and Engineering Association.
“We’re seeing a higher percentage of women taking science and engineering courses in universities and more women being able to work in these roles.”
The ONS said it was “very encouraging” that the number had risen since 2013 and there were now more women than men working in STEM subjects.
The Office for Research on Women said that the increase in women’s participation in science and tech fields had been positive for the UK economy.
“There has been a lot of talk about women in science in the public sphere but in the private sector, there has been little change in women working and working for companies in science,” the organisation’s chief executive, Mary Creagh, said.
“So we’re very happy with the number we’re seeing.”
“If you look at the gender pay gap, we know that the gender gap in science is at least three times as large as in the broader economy,” she said.
She said that, despite the rise in women entering the field, there were still barriers.
“Even in the past, women had very few opportunities in science.
The gap was so wide that many women were not going into science because they weren’t able to secure an entry level job.”
Women who choose to take a degree, such as engineering or computer science, have to be in their 20s and 30s, but there are also opportunities for women to get into these fields in their 30s and 40s.
“A lot of women choose to go to a post graduate degree, so they have some of the same career aspirations that the men do, so there’s a gender gap there,” Creagh said.
Women have made up more than a quarter of the workforce in STEM occupations in the country, according the ONS.
But in science there are still barriers that prevent women from entering, the ONC said.
For example, women are underrepresented in the field of maths and in the sciences, which have traditionally been dominated by men.
In the IT sector, for example, there are more than 60 per cent male scientists and engineers and only 15 per cent female engineers.
“This isn’t surprising given that we’re still dealing with the legacy of discrimination and misogyny that we saw in the late 19th century,” said Elizabeth O’Connor, a research fellow at the Centre for Women in Computing.
“In the mid-20th century there was a lot more of a gender divide in computer science.
There were a lot fewer women and it was a much harder path to get a degree than it is today.”
The government’s policy on gender equality has been criticised by many in the industry,