Boys who go on to study A levels are almost twice as likely as girls to have physics among their top GCSE grades, new data shows.
A report, shared with TES, shows that 36.6 per cent of boys who took physics at GCSE – and then went on to study A levels – had physics in their best three grades, compared with 21.8 per cent of girls.
The finding, from Cambridge Assessment, could explain why more boys take up physics at A level than girls. It may suggest that more boys choose physics at sixth form because it is a stand-out subject for them, whereas girls – who do better than boys in most subjects at GCSE – could be opting for subjects that they achieve even higher scores in.
For example, the report – which looks at candidates’ best GCSE grades by subject in 2015 – shows that girls were much more likely than boys to achieve their best grade in English literature at GCSE.
Tim Gill, a researcher who worked on the report, said: “Girls do better than boys overall and particularly in other subjects like English. It is fairly well-known that kids are more likely to do subjects that they are good at.”
An earlier report from Cambridge Assessment showed that in 2015 physics was taken by 20.1 per cent of male A-level students, compared with just 4.4 per cent of female A-level students.
Tommy Cookson, chairman of the charity Physics Partners, said: “Girls tend to do as well as boys at physics at GCSE but then they go down the arts route, or they think they have to be very good at physics to take it up. In co-ed schools, girls tend to see physics as more appropriate for boys than for them.”