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Page last Edited: 31/08/2016 

 Gender, Subject Choice and  Examination Results in Recent Years

  1. Gender, GCSE  Subject Choice and Results  2011/12 [JCQ data and DFE data]
  2. Gender and Further and Higher Education: Long term and Recent Trends

 As of August 2016 I have edited this document quite severely. Much of the information which originally appeared in this document has now been updated and relocated here.

I have retained only the information which gives some indication of the differences in coverage of Joint Council for Qualifications  GCSE data and DFE GCSE data and the data on Further and Higher Education. .

  1. When GCSE and Advanced GCE results are first published annually in August the focus of attention is on the Examination Results data provided by the Joint Council for Qualifications [JCQ]. It should be noted that these data refer to the examination entries and results of all candidates of all ages in the UK.
  2. The English DFE publish data on the results in English schools and colleges of GCSE students at the end of Key Stage 4 and of GCE Advanced Level students aged 16-18.
  3. Given their different coverage there are obviously some differences in entry and pass rates as between these different data sets although since the vast majority of GCSE and GCE Advanced level candidates are school and college students aged 15-16 and 16-18 respectively the differences between the data sets are generally very small .
  4.  My calculations suggest that the gender differences in subject choice and examination results indicated in the two sets of data are very small.
  5. These calculations refer  to 2011/12 . I shall update these calculations when the DFE produced their data for the 2016 examinations.
 
I have used data published by the DFE to assess gender differences in subject choice and results among English students aged 16-18. It is clear that differences in subject choice and results in the DFE data differ very little form those in the JCQ data despite the differences in coverage .In order to access the original DFE data Click here and then click on SfR02-2013Additional Tables 1 and look at table8 for numbers of male and female entrants  for particular examinations  and for male and female pass rates in these subjects .

In the  following summary table information in columns 1-5 has been extracted from the above mentioned DFE document. .  The red figures are taken from the JCQ publication to give some indication of the impact of the wider coverage of the JCQ data so that , for example Column 1 indicates that JCQ Examination entries in Mathematics, English and History  are higher than DFE entries in these subjects and similar conclusions would apply to other subjects in the table. The comparison of Columns 3 and4 and Columns 7 and 8 indicate that despite the difference in coverage gender differences in attainment are very similar in the two sets of data although the differences in the Mathematics achievement data are considerable  although, again there is little difference in the Gender Gap in achievement in Mathematics as between the two sets of data.. [I shall include comparisons for 2016 when DFE data for 2016 are published]

Most Popular GCSE subjects: GCSE Attempts and Achievements in Selected Subjects of Pupils at the End of Key Stage 4 in Schools [Percentage of all pupil] England 2011/12

Numbers [thousands] of Male entrants Percentages of Male Entrants Male % A*-C Pass rate DFE Male % A*-C Pass Rate JCQ Numbers [thousands] of Female Entrants Percentages of Female Entrants Female % A*_C Pass rare DFE Female % A*-C Pass Rate JCQ
Attempted any subject 309.4 97%  97  79   Attempted any subject 292.2   99%  98  86  
Mathematics  293.5  336.2 92% 71%   58.8% Mathematics 285.1  339.5 94% 71%  57.9%
English 286.6    338.6  90% 62% 56.7% English 282.3   330.9 93% 76% 71.3%
Any Science 239.6  75% 76%   Any Science 234.2  77% 78%  
English Literature 201.9  63% 70% 69.8% English Literature 234.0   74% 83% 82.1%
History 99.8  112.9        31% 67% 66.3% Religious Studies 114.1    38% 80% 79.4%
Religious Studies 96.4   30% 68% 67.1% Art and Design 99.0   33% 73% 83.2%
Geography 91.2          29% 66% 65.7% History 98.1     110.4  32% 74% 73.7%
Biological Sciences 78.7   25%[F=23%] 93% [F=95%] 92.2% French 78.5    26% [M=18%] 75% 76.0%
Chemistry 78.2   25% [F=23%] 93% [F=94%] 92.3% Geography 73.8      24% 76% 75.0%
Physics 77.8       24% [F=23%] 94% [F=93%] 93.3% Biological Sciences     23% 95% 93.8%
               

 

  • Some Conclusions
  1. The first row indicates that 97% of all Key Stage 4 Males entered at least one GCSE subject and that 79 % of all eligible males passed at least one GCSE subject with an A*-C grade. For females the analogous percentages were 98% and 86%.
  2. Entry rates for English and Mathematics were very high for both Males and Females as were entry rates for Any Science and for English Literature.
  3. Overall patterns of subject choice in relation to the 10 most popular subjects were fairly similar as between Males and Females.
  4. With regard to the choice of individual Science Subjects Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Physics were the 8th , 9th and 10th most popular subjects among Males but Males were not significant more likely than Females to choose these subjects. See bracketed figures in Column2. Male and Female students in Grammar Schools and private schools are more likely than those in other state schools to take single subject sciences.
  5. Females were quite  significantly more likely than males to opt for English Literature, Art and Design Religious Studies and French [and also for Spanish and German].
  6. Data from the original table indicate that Males were more likely than Females to opt for PE , Economics, Business Studies  and IT and that that Females were more likely than Males to opt for Home Economics, Health and Social Care and Drama. Also within  Design and Technology Females were more likely than males to opt for Food Technology and Males were more likely than Females to opt for Resistant Materials .[I am guessing that this is what people of my generation would class Woodwork and Metalwork but you contemporary students may know different!!

 

   

 2. Gender and Further and Higher Education

  • Long Term  Trends in Gender Differences in Enrolment In Further and Higher Education  1970/71- 2007/8

 

Table 3.7                  
Students in further and higher education:1 by type of course and sex      
United Kingdom                 Thousands
   Men
 
   Women
  1970/71 1980/81 1990/91 2007/08   1970/71 1980/81 1990/91 2007/08
Further education                  
   Full-time 116 154 219 520   95 196 261 534
   Part-time 891 697 768 984   630 624 986 1,432
                 
All further education 1,007 851 986 1,503   725 820 1,247 1,966
                 
Higher education                  
   Undergraduate                  
      Full-time 241 277 345 574   173 196 319 717
      Part-time 127 176 148 255   19 71 106 422
   Postgraduate                  
      Full-time 33 41 50 124   10 21 34 125
      Part-time 15 32 46 109   3 13 33 150
                 
All higher education2 416 526 588 1,063   205 301 491 1,414
1 Home and overseas students attending further education or higher education institutions. See Appendix, Part 3: Stages of education.
2 Figures for 2007/08 include a small number of higher education students for whom details are not available by level. 
Source: Department for Children, Schools and Families; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Welsh Assembly Government; Scottish Government; Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning

What do these data show?

 

[Note that all of the data on gender and subject choice and gender and degree results refer to home and overseas students studying at UK Universities]

 [Students [1] In Higher Education by subject and sex 2006/07 and 2007/08: United Kingdom {Percentages] [1Full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate and home and overseas students in higher education institutions only. See Appendix: Part 3 Stages of Education: Source . [2] Subject data are classified using the Joint Academic Coding System: See Appendix Part 3 Joint Academic Coding System. Source Higher Education Statistics Agency] [From Social Trends 2009 and 2010: Crown Copyright] . 

Numbers in Thousands Men 06/07 Men 07/08 Women06/07 Women 07/08 All  06/07 All 07/08
Business and administrative studies          15.8          16.1 11.2 11.5 13.1 13.5
Subjects allied to medicine 5.5 5.4 18.2 17.7 12.7 12.5
Education 5.4 4.9 12.0 11.7 9.2 8.8
Social Studies 7.5 7.5 9.3 9.5 8.5 8.6
Biological Sciences 5.9 5.9 7.7 7.8 7.0 7.0
             
Creative art and design 6.2 6.3 7.2 7.3 6,8 6.9
Engineering and technology 11.7 11.8 1.7 1,7 5.9 6.0
Languages 4.5 4.5 7.0 6.9 5.9 5.9
Computer science 8.3 7.8 1.7 1.4. 4.5 4.1
Historical and philosophical studies 4.6 4.5 4.2 4.0 4.4 4.2
             
Law 3.7 3.7 4.0 4.0 3.6 3.9
Physical sciences 4.8 4.9 2.6 2.6 3.6 3.6
Medicine and dentistry 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7
Architecture, building and planning 4.1 4.4 1.4 1.5 2.6 2.7
Mass communications and documentation 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.0 2.1
             
Mathematical sciences 2.1 2.1 0.9 1.0 1.4 1.5
Agriculture and related subjects 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.8
Veterinary science 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2
Combined 4.5 4.6 5.3 5.5 5.0 5.1
             
All subject areas [=100%] [thousands] 1,010 988, 1,352 1,318 2,363 2,306

You may click here for updated information to 2010/11 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency

"In 2006/07 female qualifiers outnumbered male qualifiers by a ratio of 14:10. In 2010/11 the difference had reduced slightly to 13:10. Male qualifiers outnumbered female qualifiers in six subject areas: Physical sciences, Maths, Computer science, Engineering, Architecture and Business studies. In the thirteen other subject areas female qualifiers outnumbered males, with the greatest imbalance in Subjects allied to medicine (mostly nursing) and Education"

Higher Education Statistics Agency Data 2013/14

 

Table F - Percentage of HE students by subject area**, mode of study, sex and domicile 2013/14
       
  Percentage of
part-time
students
Percentage of
female*
students
Percentage of
non-UK
students
Percentage of
non-EU
students
       
Medicine & dentistry 17.7% 56.2% 15.7% 11.6%
Subjects allied to medicine 41.1% 79.5% 7.8% 4.8%
Biological sciences 19.8% 60.8% 10.3% 5.5%
Veterinary science 9.9% 76.1% 19.2% 16.0%
Agriculture & related subjects 26.9% 60.0% 12.7% 8.4%
Physical sciences 12.4% 39.6% 15.1% 9.2%
Mathematical sciences 17.3% 38.0% 20.9% 15.4%
Computer science 19.8% 17.1% 20.5% 13.6%
Engineering & technology 20.0% 16.1% 32.7% 24.9%
Architecture, building & planning 26.3% 35.0% 24.4% 17.1%
Total - Science subject areas 25.1% 50.4% 16.1% 11.0%
       
Social studies 22.4% 62.3% 19.0% 12.8%
Law 20.2% 60.5% 25.0% 18.1%
Business & administrative studies 22.7% 49.1% 38.7% 31.4%
Mass communications & documentation 8.9% 58.7% 21.9% 14.0%
Languages 22.9% 69.0% 17.7% 11.4%
Historical & philosophical studies 28.9% 53.2% 10.2% 6.3%
Creative arts & design 8.2% 63.0% 15.6% 9.5%
Education 49.2% 76.0% 6.0% 4.1%
Combined  93.6% 61.8% 5.2% 3.6%
       
Total - All subject areas 26.2% 56.1% 18.9% 13.5%

 

 

 

Gender Differences in Degree Results 2011/12- 2014/15

You may click here and scroll down to Chart 9 for 2011/2012 information on Gender and Degree Class

You may click here and scroll down to chart 9 for 2013/14 information on Gender and Degree Class

These statistics may be summarised as follows

  Ist Class % 2:1 % 2:2% 3rd/Pass%
Male 2011/12 17 46 29 8
Female 2011/12 17 51 26 6.5
Male 2013/14 20.1 47.2 26.2 6.5
Females  213/14 20.0 52.5 22.7 4.8
Males 2014/15 22 47 25 6
Females 2014/15 22 52 22 5