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Context is key to making an impact on the physics gender gap

Boys vastly outnumber girls taking the subject at A level and, while it is tempting to seek a silver bullet, the reasons behind the disparity are complex. Instead, we need a sophisticated approach that varies from school to school, argues Emma Mitchell

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We all know men vastly outnumber women in post-16 physics take-up. Just 2 per cent of girls commence A-level physics, representing less than a fifth of the total cohort. The situation gets even worse during the two sixth-form years, with around 40 per cent of those girls then failing to take the final exams (see bit.ly/WhyNotPhysics and bit.ly/AlevelTakeup).

I was struck by this phenomenon when teaching at my first school, a large co-educational academy in South London with A* outcomes in its triple-science GCSE classes. I took up the challenge of part-time MEd study to find out more, and ...

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