Gender and Educational Achievement

Gender and Educational Achievement: Part 1 of 5

Quite a large proportion of this document is taken up with fairly detailed presentation of the statistics on gender and educational achievement. However you may use the following links to reach the "Analysis" sections of the document and Part Two does begin with summary data on gender and educational attainment from the 1980s onwards. You may then dip into some of the detailed statistics if you so wish.

Part One: Introduction.

Part Two [Section A] Explaining Female Relative Educational Under-Achievement in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - Click Here

Part Two [Section B] Explaining the Relative Improvement in Female Educational Achievement from the 1980s onwards - Click Here

Part Three: Explaining the slower rate of improvement of male educational achievement - Click Here

Part Four: Appendix: Backlash Arguments, Moral Panics and the Underclass - Click Here

Useful Links

  • Click here for Interview with Professor Carolyn Jackson on Lads and Ladettes and related matters NEW
  • Click here for DFE data relating to 2018/19 GCSE results Some data on ethnicity, free school meal eligibility and  gender can be found on pp7-12  in the main text document  but for more detailed information click on the third link [ Characteristics National Tables]  and then to find Tables CH1 and CH2   which are especially useful  New link added February 2020
  • Click here for  BBC Coverage of Gender Gap at GCSE Level New link added February 2020
  • Click here for DFE publication December 2019: Widening Participation in Higher Education
  • In April 2018 I watched "Love and Drugs on the Streets: Girls sleeping rough ". Apparently life does not always revolve around Russell  Group University  Facilitating Subjects. [Addition May 2019. However, interestingly the Russell Group Universities have themselves recently discontinued this list!  ]
  • Click here for Professor Gillian Richards' more recent article on the lives of working class girls in which she argues that for a variety of reasons the career aspirations of some working class girls may remain limited . NEW link added April 2018.
  • Click here and here for Growing Up Poor
  • Click here for TES coverage of  study on girls and self-esteem
  • Click here for Angela McRobbie video in which she discusses the technicalities of Post-Feminism.

More Females are nowadays on average more successful at all levels of the education system but not all females are educationally successful and not all females share similar futures. The same conclusions apply to males.

  • Click here for a podcast produced by Ms A. Sugden on Feminism and Education
  • Click here and then on the Education Playlist from Esher Sociology for [podcasts on Gender and Educational Achievement
  • Click here for video lecture on Gender and Educational Achievement by Professor Becky Francis .  This is a very useful informative  resource
  • Click here for Professor Gillian Richards' article on the lives of working class girls . NEW link added April 2018
  • Click here for Gender, Labelling and STEM subjects. NEW link added November 2017
  • Click here for BBC coverage of Increased Higher Education Gender Gap NEW link added September 2017
  • Own  documents on Gender and Subject ChoiceGender and Hidden Curriculum and  a PowerPoint on Gender and Educational Achievement
  • Click here for a brief analysis of the Gender Identities of High Achieving Pupils by Professor Becky Francis. this is again a very interesting item which might provoke some class discussion.
  •  A   new secondary school accountability system was introduced in 2016. Click here for DFE statistics relating to 2016/17 GCSE results  For data on ethnicity, free school meal eligibility and gender scroll down to pp22-34  of the statistical first release. Further information can be found in the accompanying Characteristics National Tables where Table 2a is especially useful
  • Click here for DFE data relating to 2018/19 GCSE results Some data on ethnicity, free school meal eligibility and  gender can be found on pp7-12  in the main text document  but for more detailed information click on the third link [ Characteristics National Tables]  and then to find Tables CH1 and CH2   which are especially useful  New link added February 2020
  • You may also click here for a recent DFE Report on destinations of pupils after Key Stages 4 and 5 which has useful information on access to Higher Education and ethnicity, free school meal eligibility , gender and special educational needs on pp 23- 28....and much more . New link added January 2017
  • [I have not discussed the  relative effects of single sex and co-educational schools as determinants of educational attainment but you may click here  and here  and here  and here  and here for five useful sources on this controversial debate. Here is another more recent source]

 

  • In all of my documents on Gender and Educational Achievement I have concentrated only on educational achievement at GCSE level and beyond. However recent information on gender and pre-school educational levels and educational achievement at Key Stages One and  Two  can be found via the following links to DFE data publications. Students may use this data to assess whether and to what extent gender differences in educational achievement are apparent at an early age.Click here for BBC item on gender and pre-school educational levelsKey Stage 1 2017 Results Girls outperform boys     Go to SFR and scroll to pages 4-7: girls out perform boys and FSM pupils perform worse than other pupils
  • Key Stage 2 Results 2017        Go to  SFR and scroll to page 16. Girls out-perform boys in reading and writing but not in Mathematics FSM pupils perform worse than other pupils  
  • Click here and here   for some recent Guardian articles

 

Quite a large proportion of this document is taken up with fairly detailed presentation of the statistics on gender and educational achievement. However you may use the following links to reach the "Analysis" sections of the document and Part Two does begin with summary data on gender and educational attainment from the 1980s onwards. You may then dip into some of the detailed statistics if you so wish.

Part One: Introduction.

Part Two [Section A] Explaining Female Relative Educational Under-Achievement in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - Click Here

Part Two [Section B] Explaining the Relative Improvement in Female Educational Achievement from the 1980s onwards - Click Here

Part Three: Explaining the slower rate of improvement of male educational achievement - Click Here

Part Four: Appendix: Backlash Arguments, Moral Panics and the Underclass - Click Here

  •   Part One : Introduction  

 There can be absolutely no doubt that historically females have faced serious obstacles both in society generally and within the education system which prevented most of them from achieving the educational levels of which they were clearly capable. Even when the Tripartite System of Secondary Education was introduced in 1945   the 11+ Examination was organised in such a way that the pass mark was set higher for females than males to counteract the possibility that females would achieve a disproportionate share of Grammar School places.[Click here for an article by Harvey Goldstein confirming this point.] However educational prospects for females did gradually improve in the latter half of the 20th Century.

By the early 1960s boys were still more likely than girls to enter for GCE "O level" examinations but the percentages of male and female entrants actually passing these examinations were fairly similar although there were significant gender differences in subject choices which restricted females' career choices. Also many girls who had passed these examinations and shown the capacities for Advanced Level courses did not continue their studies at Advanced Level so that despite relative gender equality of educational achievement at 16+ level , a greater proportion of males than females remained in full time education post 16 and entered for Advanced Level examinations where gender differences in subject choice remained substantial. Also at this time male students were more successful than female students in the Advanced Level examinations so that male students were therefore more likely than females to enrol on  Undergraduate courses.

Following the introduction of the GCSE in 1988 the GCSE examination results of female students improved more than those  of male students so that the performance gap between female and male students at GCSE level increased . This overall relative improvement in female examination results at 16+ level occurred primarily because female students extended their traditionally superior performance in Languages and Humanities  but also reversed males' traditionally superior examination performances in Mathematics and the Sciences  although the gender differences in examination results in these latter subjects remained relatively small.

 An overall gender gap of approximately 10% in the proportions of females and males gaining 5 or more A/A*-C grades at GCSE level  has persisted since the late 1980s  and gender differences in subject choice at  GCSE level declined especially after the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988 which made Science subjects compulsory at GCSE Level.

Increasingly also more females enrolled on Advanced Level courses and they began by the 1990s to outperform males in the Advanced Level examinations with the result that females now became more likely than males to enrol on Undergraduate courses. However in 2017 and 2018 although the female GCE Advanced Level A*-E pass rate exceeded the male A*-E pass rate and females had a slightly higher Average Points score per A Level subject the male [A*+A combined] pass rate exceeded the female [A*+A combined ] pass rate although this was certainly not the case in every individual Advanced Level subject. Nevertheless females were more likely than males to enrol oh Higher Education courses but there were  significant  differences in subject choice at both Advanced and Undergraduate Levels substantial with females relatively more likely to enrol on Arts and Humanities courses and males more likely to enrol on Maths, Science and Engineering.

In 2013/14  females were  very slightly less likely than males to be awarded First Class degrees but significantly more likely than males to be awarded Upper Second Class degrees.[ Important update However in 2016/17 and 2017/18 the reverse was the case. [Click here for latest HESA 2019 data. Scroll down to Figure 17 and consult the relevant data] . Even more detailed information is available from the officefor students . Clearly the analysis of examination statistics involves considerable technicalities and you should discuss with your teachers how best to approach these issues for examination purposes

In this document I shall also consider interrelationships between gender, ethnicity and free school meal eligibility. Free School meal eligibility is often used as a not entirely satisfactory measure of working class membership.

For Next Section Part Two (Section A) - Click Here