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Boys continue to dominate STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level – despite girls performing better in these subjects

students on computer

This summer’s GCSE and A-Level results showed that boys continue to dominate STEM subjects, despite girls performing better in these subjects overall. 

Computing A Level saw the biggest increase in the number of entries across all subjects, up 16.7% from 2022. Girls outperformed boys, with 47.9% achieving A* – B grades compared to 43.9%, despite girls making up less than 15% of entrants. Boys also dominated in other STEM subjects, with 77% of Physics students and 62% of Maths being male. 

GCSE results showed a similar story. Computing, which saw the greatest increase in entrants amongst non-English Baccalaureate subjects (11.9%), saw girls outperform boys, with 29.9% of girls achieving grades 7-9, compared with 22.9% of boys – despite just 21.1% of girls sitting the subject. 

In England, Girls also outperformed boys with grades 7-9  in other STEM subjects including Chemistry (44.1% vs 43.2%), Biology (4.4% vs 39.7%), Engineering (34.8% vs 11.7%) and Science: Double Award (9.5% vs 7.6%). There were no STEM subjects at GCSE level that were majority female. 

This reflects an on-going pattern in education, with boys more likely to be encouraged into STEM subjects. Research from the Aspires project found that boys between 10 and 18 were significantly more likely than girls to say that their teacher expected them to do well in science, and to feel that their teacher was interested in whether they understood science. 

Additionally, a survey of over 1,200 women in the UK by tech diversity champions Code First Girls found that 80% were not encouraged into a tech career at school, with 81% reporting that they were not taught computer coding skills during education. 

Commenting on the results, Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls said:

“It’s fantastic to see that more young people are choosing to study computing given the projected growth of the UK’s tech industry. However, it is disappointing to see that boys continue to dominate STEM, despite girls performing well in these subjects. 

“As the UK’s job market in tech continues to suffer from an ever-growing skills gap, and with current projections suggesting that there will be just 1 qualified woman for every 115 roles by 2025, we need to act fast to put in place the diverse tech talent pipeline we need. 

“From this year’s results, it’s clear that girls are just as capable of succeeding in STEM subjects as boys, so there is really no reason to hold them back from a future career in one of the UK’s fastest growing industries”. 

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