Girls outperform boys in reading in all countries and economies by the equivalent of one year of school.
• In most countries and economies, girls underperform boys in mathematics; and among the highest-achieving students, the gender gap in favour of boys is even wider.
• The gender gap in mathematics performance mirrors the gender gap in students’ drive,
motivation and self-beliefs.
• Boys and girls tend to benefit equally when they are perseverant and motivated to learn, and have confidence in their abilities to learn mathematics. Consequently, the performance of both boys and girls suffers at the same rate when they lack motivation to learn and confidence in their own abilities.
Even at 15, boys and girls already have different ideas about their career paths.
The gender gaps in mathematics performance has largely remained stable over successive PISA assessments – which is not a good sign,considering that PISA results also show that both boys and girls can perform at the highest levels. More troubling, still, is the fact that the gender gap extends to students’ attitudes towards learning mathematics, which has repercussions in life well beyond school. Shrinking these gender gaps requires a concerted effort by parents and educators to challenge and eliminate gender stereotypes and bolster girls’ beliefs in themselves.
Closing the gender gap