BRIGHT GIRLS LESS LIKELY TO WANT TO STUDY MATHS AND PHYSICS AT A-LEVEL THAN BRIGHT BOYS
Stereotypical view reinforced
Implications for International Baccalaureate too?
The largest ever investigation analysing whether teenagers want to take maths or physics in the sixth form has found that even high-ability, highly motivated girls are less likely than boys to want to persist with the subjects beyond the age of 16. Researchers from the Institute of Education, London, who surveyed 10,355 14- and 15-year-olds in 113 schools across England found that girls were less likely to want to take maths and physics at A-level and through other post-16 qualifications, even when compared to boys with similar background characteristics. Three times as many boys as girls said they strongly agreed with the idea of taking physics beyond the age of 16, while for maths, boys were 1.5 times more likely to say this was the case. The academics behind the three year study, presented at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference last September admitted that it was still not clear what schools should do to counteract this “male-orientation” towards take-up.
Apart from confirming a stereotypical view with wide currency, this study also raises questions about how you can make these subjects more appealing to girls. Also there has been much in the media recently praising the merits of the IB, which makes science and maths study obligatory, post 16 ,however, this research suggests that the IB would hold much less appeal for girls than for boys, certainly as things stand.
Some 79 per cent of UK entries for physics A-level in 2010 were from boys, while the corresponding figure for maths A-level was 59 per cent.