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PISA in Focus

PISA in Focus is a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way.

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What Lies Behind Gender Inequality in Education?

  • While PISA reveals large gender differences in reading, in favour of 15-year-old girls, the gap is narrower when digital reading skills are tested. Indeed, the Survey of Adult Skills suggests that there are no significant gender differences in digital literacy proficiency among 16-29 year-olds.
  • Boys are more likely to underachieve when they attend schools with a large proportion of socio‑economically disadvantaged students.
  • Girls – even high-achieving girls – tend to underachieve compared to boys when they are asked to think like scientists, such as when they are asked to formulate situations mathematically or interpret phenomena scientifically.
  • Parents are more likely to expect their sons, rather than their daughters, to work in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field – even when their 15-year-old boys and girls perform at the same level in mathematics.

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