Ben HaywardAugust 14th
2019

The number of female students taking science A-levels has overtaken males for the first time in history. 

Across the UK, there were a total of 84,111 entries from girls in biology, chemistry and physics A-levels this year (50.3%), compared with 83,133 from boys (49.7%).

Last year the numbers were almost exactly flipped, with girls accounting for 49.6% of science entries and boys 50.4%.

The rising number of young women taking sciences follows a major push to encourage female students to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects in schools, with exam boards also suggesting a greater exposure to female role models in sciences could be contributing to the trend. 

When science is split into its core subjects, figures show that more girls than boys are taking biology (62.9%) and chemistry (53.7 per cent), however physics saw more than three times as many entries from boys than girls this year (2019) with 30,159 male students sitting exams compared with 8,799 female students.

Dr Philip Wright, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: “It is particularly encouraging to see the rise in young women being inspired to take science A-levels. For the first time female entries have overtaken male entries in the sciences.”

Across all subjects, females narrowly outperformed boys at the top grades this year, with 25.5% of exam entries for girls awarded A* or A grades, compared to 25.4% for boys.

However, on A* grades alone, boys performed better, with 8.2% of entries getting the highest result, compared with 7.5% of girls' entries.

Amid major exam overhauls, stats also show A-level students have been awarded the lowest proportion of top grades in over a decade, with the proportion of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland awarded an A* or A hitting its lowest point since 2007.

Separate figures released by Ucas have also revealed that fewer students have been accepted on UK degree courses this year (down 1%), and a fall in the number of 18-year-olds means universities are looking to fill their places through the clearing system. 

You can check out TOTUM’s comprehensive guide to clearing here.

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