A-level results 2019: STEM gender gap increasing

Statistics from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) published this morning show the gender gap in STEM subjects has increased from 2018

This year’s A-level results show a clear gender gap in the uptake of STEM subjects.

Despite female students outperforming their male counterparts for the top grades this year, after two years of boys doing better, the gender gap for certain STEM subjects has increased.

Computing, ICT, and maths all saw an increased gender gap since 2018, and although the gap in physics did decrease, it remained significant.

Numbers from the JCQ are as follows:

Computing

2019
Female – 0.3%
Male – 2.7%

2018
Female – 0.3%
Male – 2.5%

Total number: 1.4% – up 0.1% in 2019

ICT

2019
Female – 0.1%
Male – 0.3%

2018
Female – 0.4%
Male – 1.1%

Total number: 0.2% – down 0.5% in 2019

Physics

2019
Female – 2.0%
Male – 8.4%

2018
Female – 1.9%
Male – 8.1%

Total number: 4.9% – up 0.2% in 2019

Mathematics

2019
Female – 8.1%
Male – 15.6%

2018
Female – 8.6%
Male – 16.2%

Total number: 11.5% – down 0.5% in 2019

Mathematics (Further)

2019
Female – 0.9%
Male – 2.9%

2018
Female – 1%
Male – 3.2%

Total number: 1.8% – down 0.2% in 2019

However, despite this gap, female students outnumbered males in biology, and came close in chemistry:

Biology

2019
Female – 9.9%
Male – 7.1%

2018
Female – 9.0%
Male – 6.4%

Total number: 8.6% – up 0.7% in 2019

Chemistry

2019
Female – 7.2%
Male – 7.6%

2018
Female – 6.4%
Male – 7.0%

Total number: 7.4% – up 0.7% in 2019

Agata Nowakowska, AVP at Skillsoft, said: “Another year, another frustratingly small number of girls taking STEM exams compared to their male counterparts.  Schools need to step up to show pupils that old-fashioned misconceptions that these subjects are for boys are exactly that – misconceptions.

There are great initiatives out there allowing girls to dip their toe into areas such as coding, with Code Girls First being a prime example. These help demystify areas that girls have had very little exposure to.  We need to take this model into the classroom, but this is as much about educating teachers, as it is students.  Some are unconsciously biased about girls and STEM.  The sooner we can make these changes, the sooner we can have more equality, diversity and balance in the world of technology.”

The full A-level results report for summer 2019 can be found on the JCQ website at www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels

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