What is the Gender Gap in Education?

What is The Gender Gap?

The gender gap in education refers to the fact that girls get better GCSE and A level results than boys, in practically every subject, and women are much more likely to go to university than men. For more specific statistics on the relationship between gender and educational achievement, please read on…

Exam results 2017 by gender 

2017 GCSE results show a 9.5% gender gap – with 71 per cent of female entries were awarded at least a C  – or a 4 grade – compared with just 61.5 per cent of their male counterparts

At A-level, there is a 5.4% point gap in the A*-C achievement rate between girls and boys (in the table below, the middle column is the A-C rate

A level results 2017 gender


Source – Joint Council for Qualifications (who have a ‘closed data policy’, as they don’t provide their data in spread sheets, on PDFs.

Up until the late 1980’s boys outperformed girls in O’Levels (before they were replaced by GCSE’s) as well as A Levels. They were also more likely to attend university than girls.

The 2016 figures showed that:

  • Girls have opened up their biggest gap over boys in A* to C GCSE grades for 14 years.
  •  71.3 per cent of female entries were awarded at least a C grade, compared with just 62.4 per cent of their male counterparts.
  • A higher percentage of female entries also achieved A* or A grades: 24.1 per cent compared with 16.8 per cent for boys – a gap of 7.3 percentage points

Interestingly, research from the Cambridge Assessment Research Report showed that the ‘gender gap was generally smaller in STEM and Language subjects (around 5 percentage points at grade C) and greater in Applied, Expressive and Humanities subjects (around 14 percentage points at grade C)’.

There was a 9% point ‘gender gap at GCSE in 2015



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