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Schools urged to do more to bridge gender gap

09/12/2013 Joanna
A new study has highlighted a growing gender divide in state schools, suggesting they need to do more to counter stereotyping.

It demonstrates that gender bias is being strengthened in almost half of state co-ed schools and is being tackled in only one in five.

The report by the Institute of Physics (IOP) used the National Pupil Database to track students' progression to A-level in six subjects. It reveals a male gender bias in physics, maths and economics and a female bias in English, psychology and biology. 

Professor Peter Main, director of education and science at IOP, said: "We are highlighting these findings to encourage schools to think seriously about gender balance. Leaving these stereotypes unchallenged creates unfair and unnecessary barriers and stops students achieving their full potential."

According to the report, it is the culture of schools which serves to combat stereotypes, although those in teacher jobs can make a difference too.

Professor Main called for "whole-school initiatives" to redress the imbalance, pointing out that some education facilities have managed to reduce the divide.

The report used a marking system to grade schools according to their success in reducing inequality, comparing pupils' progression in each of the six subjects to the national average. The school was given +1 if it improved the gender balance in a subject and -1 if it made it worse. 

Some 49 per cent of state schools scored -2 or less, demonstrating that they are failing to address the gender imbalance in at least four out of the six subjects.

An earlier study conducted for the IOP's 'It's Different for Girls' report showed that single-sex schools are better at countering gender imbalances. Independent institutions and co-eds with six forms also fare better at combating stereotyping.

Professor Main commented: "Progress is being made by single sex schools, independents and a handful of beacon co-eds. The majority of state co-ed schools need to catch up with the better practice of others to avoid failing their students."

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801670127-ADNFCR
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