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Science and maths gender gap high in UK

Do you encourage your daughter to excel in science and maths?


According to an international study, the UK has one of the worst gender gaps in science sparking warnings our young talent could miss out in the vital field.

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found gender stereotypes are turning girls off careers in maths and science.

It has examined the different gender gaps in education.

It says in the UK, the difference between girls’ and boys’ performance in the PISA science tests is 13 per cent compared with an average gap of just 1 per cent worldwide.

Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the Institute of Education, said: “We are one of the countries with the biggest gender differences in the OECD PISA science results.

Our 15-year-old girls are reported as doing 13 per cent less well than our boys.

Of the 67 countries that took the tests, this places us in the bottom five.”

Less than one in 20 girls consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), compared to one in five boys.

The report found internationally, six in 10 low achievers in international reading, maths and science survey are boys.

It suggests that parents often encourage their sons more to work hard at these subjects than they do with their daughters.

It said: “Parents can give their sons and daughters’ equal support and encouragement for all of their school work and aspirations for their future. PISA results show that this doesn’t always happen.”

The OECD also argues that employers may tend to favour boys because they are more likely than girls to get hands-on experience outside of school.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our plan for education is ensuring all pupils develop the skills and knowledge which give them the best possible chance to succeed.

“A key part of this is our focus on crucial STEM subjects like science and maths.”

The DfE says it is planning to invest £67m in this area over the next five years.

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