Gender and Subject Choice – Section 2

Russell Haggar

Site Owner

Section Two:

Section Two: Preliminary summaries of recent trends in subject entries at GCSE and GCE Advanced Level subdivided by Gender

  • GCSE Examinations, Gender and Subjects Choice 2012-19 [These GCSE data are presented in some detail here.]
  1. In relation to most of the 10 highest entry GCSE subjects gender differences in subject entry are small.
  2. These differences are negligible  for the compulsory National Curriculum subjects [Mathematics, Science and English]
  3. Differences are  small also for  History , Religious Studies  and Geography
  4. However the were substantial differences in entry for Art and Design  and Design and Technology  .
  5. Gender differences in subject entry for individual Science subjects are small : Biology , Chemistry and Physics .
  6. Gender differences in subject entry were substantial in French  and Spanish  but not in German There have been ongoing concerns about the decline im Modern Language  entries
  7. However in some other subjects gender differences in entry are much larger and to some extent reflect gender differences in career aspirations or and/or expectations. Thus Males are significantly more likely than females to opt for Economics, PE, Business Studies, ICT, Construction, Technology [excluding Design and Technology] and Engineering while females are much more to opt for Social Science, Drama, Health and Social Care, Home Economics and Performing Arts. At the extremes 90%+of Construction entrants were male  and 90%+ of Health and Social Care entrants were female
  • GCE Advanced Level Examinations, Gender and Subject Choice 2014-2019 .[These  GCE Advanced Level data are presented in some detail here.]

[.Note that the separate tabulation of English Language and English Literature affected the rankings of the most popular subjects among females. There has been little change since 2014]

  1. Gender differences in subject choice for the 10 most popular GCE Advanced Level subjects were greater than was the case at GCSE Level
  2.  In 2017 English Language and English Literature were tabulated separately which caused English to fall to 4th and Mathematics to rise to 3rd  in the female rankings By 2019 English Literature has fallen to 7th place.
  3. In 2019 the 10 most popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in rank order wee Mathematics, Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, History, Art and Design, English Literature, Physics, Sociology and Geography
  4. Of these 10 subjects Mathematics, Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, History and Geography were among the 1o most popular subjects for males and females.
  5. Significantly Art and Design, Sociology and Religious Studies appear only in the top 10 female rankings and Physics, Further Mathematics ,Economics and Business Studies appear only in the top 10 male rankings.
  6. As with the GCSE examinations some less popular Advanced Level subjects exhibit more significant gender differences in subject choice. Thus iin 2013-19 Performing and Expressive Arts, Welsh , Communication Studies ], Drama  and French ] all have considerably larger percentages of female entrants while Computing , Other Sciences , Further Mathematics , PE, ICT and Music all have larger percentages of male entrants.  These percentages changed little between 2014 and 2018 and the data  are tabulated later in the document.

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