Document Abstract

Why don’t more girls choose to pursue a science career? (PISA in focus No 93)

Examines the nature of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions. Reports on a study using data from 67 countries and economies participating in the 2015 cycle of Program for International Student Assessment PISA, country-level indicators on gender equality (the Global Gender Equality Index) and the proportion of women graduating in a STEM field. Finds that the gender gap in STEM studies is already evident among 15-year-olds. Establishes that boys are more confident and interested in broad science topics. Determines that, based on PISA data, more women are expected to pursue careers in STEM fields than actually do. Suggests that students may be influenced in their career choices by their understanding of their relative academic strengths as well as their confidence and interest in science. Argues that, unlike many high-performing boys, many high-performing girls may not pursue a career in science, even if they are capable of succeeding in it, because they are likely to be top of the class in non-science subjects too. Concludes that this means that tackling boys’ underperformance in reading may be just as important to ensure greater representation of women in science careers as supporting girls’ performance in and attitudes towards STEM subjects.


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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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