Gender and Subject Choice – Section 3B

Russell Haggar

Site Owner

Section 3[b]

Gender and GCE Advanced Level Examinations

Overall  GCE Advanced Level Grades A*-E 2011-18

Gender and GCE Advanced level Subject Choice 2008-2019

 

 

Gender and  GCE Advanced Level Subject Entries

1.Gender and  Overall GCE Advanced Level  Subject Entries and Pass Grades     2011-2020: UK Students

Gender  differences in GCE Advanced Level results can be found in this EXCEL Diagram Click Here  More detailed information can be found in the following table

 Since its introduction females were proportionately more likely than males to gain A* grades but this was reversed in 2012 and has continued to 2020. However females remained more likely to gain A*+A grades combined but this was reversed in 2016 but reversed back again in 2019 and continued in 2020

It has been claimed that male results have improved in relation to female results it has been pointed out also that females continue to out -perform males in many individual subjects and that  the better overall male results  arise to a considerable  extent because males out perform females in a relatively small number of subjects where examination entries and proportions of A* and A grades awarded are relatively high [e.g. Mathematics] Click here for an item on A Levels from the BBC's More or Less

It is also pointed out that total female A Level entries are are far greater than total male A level entries  so that even where a larger percentage of male than female subject entries are  awarded A* grades the number of male and female A*grade  awards is very similar. Click here  for an article from The Conversation

It is pointed out also that the number of females gaining university places in 2017 is far greater than the number of males and this alone suggests that claims of relative male educational progress should be treated with care.  Click here for a Guardian article on Gender differences in access to university

 

Some analysis of the 2018 results

  1. Click here for TES article
  2. Click here for EPI analysis
  3. Click here for BBC coverage

Some Analysis of the 2019 Results

  • Click here for fine summary of the key issues from the Times Education Supplement
  • Click here for very useful BBC item : Which subjects are students dropping?
  • Click here for a very useful Guardian article focussing on fall in percentage of A* and A grades, gender differences in attainment of A*-C grades, increased take up of Science subjects by females [data are for England rather than UK but this is true also  for the UK as a whole], data on the 10 most popular A Level subjects in 2019 and 2018
  • Click here for Guardian article declining entries English Literature.
  • Click here for Guardian article on A levels and Social Class
  • Click here for Guardian article on HE entrance based on predicted A level grades.

2.GCE Advanced Level : Gender Differences in Examination Entries

 

Between 2008 and 2019 there has not been much change in the relative popularity of the 10 most popular subjects..

  • General Studies and Media/Film/ have fallen out of the top 10 subjects and been replaced by Sociology and Further Mathematics.
  • Between 2016 and 2017 English was subdivided into English language and English Literature which meant English Literature occupied a lower position the 2017, 2018 and 2019 rankings than did English in the 2016 rankings. Also Chemistry overtook History in the 2017-2019  rankings
  • Broadly speaking relative gender preferences for the most popular GCE Advanced Level subjects have remained fairly stable as is indicated in the following Excel Chart. Click Here

Between 2008 and 2019 among the 10 most popular subjects for females :

  • General studies and Media/Film/TVstudies were replaced by Geography and Religious Studies.

Between 2008 and 2019 among the 10 most popular subjects for males:

  • General Studies and Media/Film and TV Studies were replaced by Economics and Further Mathematics

You may use to the following links to access more detailed data on the 2019 and 2018 examinations

  • Click here to Download [2020] Excel Charts showing the 10 most popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects,showing gender differences in entries for GCE Advanced Level Mathematics , Sciences, Modern Languages and subjects with especially large percentages of female and male entrant
  •  Click here to Download [2019] Excel Charts showing the 10 most popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects,showing gender differences in entries for GCE Advanced Level Mathematics , Sciences, Modern Languages and subjects with especially large percentages of female and male entrant
  • Click here to download [2018] for  EXCEL Charts showing the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2018 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject
  • Click Here to download [2020] Charts
  • Click here to download [2019] for  EXCEL charts showing gender differences in entries for GCE Advanced Level Mathematics, Sciences and Modern Languages and for subjects with especially large percentages of female and male chosen primarily by Females or Males.
  •  Click here to download[2018] for  EXCEL charts showing gender differences in entries for GCE Advanced Level Mathematics, Sciences and Modern Languages and for subjects with especially large percentages of female and male chosen primarily by Females or Males.

 

 

The following EXCEL Charts present similar data for the years 2014-2017. There have been some changes but the overall patterns have not changed greatly

[For each year there are 3 charts: 10 most popular subjects overall; 10 most popular subjects for females; 10 most popular subjects for males]

Click here to download  EXCEL Charts showing the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2014 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject.

Click here to download  EXCEL Charts showing the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2015 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject.

 Click here to download EXCEL Charts  showing  the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2016 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject

 Click here to download  EXCEL Charts  Showing  the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2017 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject

Click here to download  EXCEL Charts showing the 10 Most Popular GCE Advanced Level Subjects in 2018 with percentages of Male and Female entrants for each subject. 

 

 

Gender and  GCE Advanced Level Subject Choice  2012 -2019: Some Further Analysis: Gender and Subjects with fewer total entries.

In this  table are listed  the 10 subjects with the largest percentages of female and male entrants respectively in 2012-18 and the percentages of female entrants and male entrants respectively in these subjects in 2012-2018. It is shown that these percentages vary little  in most subjects between 2012 and 2018 although there are some minor changes in the rank order some subjects among females. [Also in the cases of  Welsh and Performing and Expressive Arts  the fluctuations in the percentages are greater but this is related to the fact that actual numbers choosing some of these subjects are very small].

I have not updated this table for 2019 and 2020 but you may use these Excel Documents -Click here to download  2019  and Click here to download  2020

 

  • Much has been made of the gender differences in choice of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Further mathematics  and so it is appropriate to provide a little more information on these subjects. The following table illustrates the percentages and numbers of all UK  male and female entrants for the years 2012-
  • In relation to these data remember also that gender differences in GCSE A*-C pass rates in  these subjects are small and so cannot explain the significant gender differences in Advanced level entry rates for all of these subjects  [other than Chemistry]
  • The Female entry rate for Biological Sciences has consistently been higher than the male entry rate ; and this has also been the case for Chemistry in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
  • However in Physics, Mathematics and Further mathematics the male entry rate has consistently been higher than the female entry rate.
  • Remember that gender differences in GCSE entry rates and pass rates are small and so it is not possible to explain the GCE Advanced Level entry rates in terms of entry and performance at GCSE level.
  •  Click here for a Guardian article by Professor Athene Donald [Professor of Physics at Cambridge University] in which she discusses the implications of the Institute of Physics Report.

 

 If these trends continue we shall not see equal numbers of males and females opting for Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics any time soon! Click here for The Independent's coverage of gender differences in entries  in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences in 2012/13 and here for an Independent article [September 2014] on gender and Physics, Mathematics and Engineering.

  • Click here for summary of study suggesting females with top GCSE Science grades deterred from studying STEM A Levels
  • Click here for excellent article with data trends, including gender differences, in entry for STEM subjects.
  • Click here for Guardian article on Gender and STEM subjects
  • However follow the links below for information  showing  increasing female entries for Advanced Level Science subjects.
  • Click here for fine summary of the key issues from the Times Education Supplement
  • Click here for very useful BBC item : Which subjects are students dropping?
  • Click here for a very useful Guardian article focussing on fall in percentage of A* and A grades, gender differences in attainment of A*-C grades, increased take up of Science subjects by females [data are for England rather than UK but this is true also  for the UK as a whole], data on the 10 most popular A Level subjects in 2019 and 2018.

 

Click here for Section 3 - 3c