Aspirations gender gap begins by age 13 research suggests.

‘Girls leave boys behind at school because they are already focused on higher education by the age of 13, an Oxford University study has found.
The gender gap in attitudes is attributable to biological differences, which mean that girls mature earlier, according to experts who analysed a study of more than 3,000 young people.

It found that in Year 9 almost 65 per cent of girls said it was very important to go to university, compared with 58 per cent of boys. Researchers said that this was the case because girls "tend to mature" faster "socially and academically" and they feel more comfortable within school because they are better suited for academic studies.’ - Telegraph

‘Professor Kathy Sylva, co-author of the report Believing in Better, published today by the Sutton Trust social mobility charity, said higher aspirations among girls “may be linked to their greater A-level success and [success in] gaining admission to university”.

But the study also shows that girls were “significantly” less likely than boys to believe in their own academic ability, particularly in maths. This is despite the fact that girls consistently outperform boys academically in their GCSE results. The report suggests that, “as a group, girls may be underestimating their academic ability”.

Louise Archer, professor of sociology of education at King’s College, London, who is an expert in gender in compulsory education, said that the disparity in attitudes towards university could partly be explained by girls having a more “realistic” take on their prospects after school.

“Certainly with the work that we have undertaken, boys who do not plan on going to university, some of them have slightly unrealistic expectations that they will be able to leave school at 16 and walk into work or an apprenticeship,” Professor Archer said. “The labour market is changing and girls are more realistic in that sense. It’s maybe that boys are not ready to think that far ahead.”

The academic added that, despite the research findings, she believed that the vast majority of middle-class boys would expect to go on to university. “It’s not as though women are more concentrated in higher-status careers, or that degree-level physics is overflowing with women undergraduates,” she said.’ - TES

‘Students from ethnic minority backgrounds typically had higher levels of aspiration than their white peers, and students from neighbourhoods with higher levels of unemployment were five times more likely to consider a university degree as very important than those from areas with lower unemployment.

Disadvantaged students were, however, less likely to think they would go on to university than their more advantaged peers, with only 27% believing it was likely they themselves would continue into higher education and get a degree, compared with 39% of their better-off peers.’ - Guardian

‘The Sutton Trust’s findings have been highlighted just weeks after a similar report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) found that, by the main Ucas deadline in January 2016, over 94,000 fewer men had applied for university, making them a minority among undergraduates, postgraduates, and full and part-time students.

Head of Ucas, Mary Curnock Cook, described how “the situation is getting worse” as boys - particularly white and from poorer backgrounds - continue perform worse than girls across primary, secondary, and HE, as well as in apprenticeships.

She warned of Hepi’s findings: “On current trends, the gap between rich and poor will be eclipsed by the gap between males and females within a decade.”’ - Independent

Go Back