In his book The Empathy Gap – just released as an ebook for £4.32, the paperback edition costs £25.00 – the redoubtable William Collins explodes the myth that females have surpassed males in the education system through merit.
After years of trying to explain comparative female academic success, a leading education expert has concluded that girls are simply cleverer than boys.
Thirty per cent of GCSEs taken by girls last year were awarded at least a grade 7, akin to an A, compared with 24 per cent sat by boys.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, expects girls to cement their lead in today’s results. “It is striking how well girls do, and how well they have done since the inception of the GCSE in 1988,” he wrote in a report.
“They are, and have been, ahead overall and in most subjects by a substantial margin. This is but one aspect of female dominance in education.”
The data was rarely taken at face value but instead explained away, Smithers said. “When it emerged that girls did better in the 11+ selection tests so that more had to be admitted to grammar schools, it was explained away as them maturing faster. Since few continued in education after the age of 15 or 16, it was assumed they peaked early.”
When girls leapt ahead at GCSE, he said, this was attributed to the modular structure of the course, which favoured their conscientious approach, and when GCSEs were reformed to be more like O-levels, the girls’ lead was dented only slightly.
“Now with teacher assessment girls have gone further ahead and it has been suggested that this is because teachers favour them. On the strength of their superior performance in schools, girls are more likely to go to university. In 1980, they were outnumbered by three to two but 40 years on that has been a complete reversal.
“Why then does it seem so difficult to accept that females are cleverer?”
Smithers said this could be because historically girls tended to “fade away” in adult life, possibly because of the “script society wrote for them”. He said that it was also “perfectly possible for women to do better, on average, but there to be more men at the pinnacle”.
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