According to the 2012 PISA study, one in seven male students didn’t reach base level proficiency in reading, math or science. Among more than 30 countries, 14% of boys and 9% of girls did not reach basic proficiency in any of those three core subjects. A recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) showed that boys are overall less engaged than girls in school, have lower skills, achieve worse academically and leave school earlier.

Part of the problem is that boys spend, on average, as much as one hour less than girls on their homework, less time on reading for pleasure, but more time on video games. On the other hand, the traditional gender gap between the best female and male students was found in mathematics, girls showing lower self-confidence and being more anxious in this field. “Low-achieving boys appear to be trapped in a cycle of poor performance, low motivation, disengagement with school and lack of ambition, while high-achieving girls are somehow thwarted from using their mathematical skills in more specialized higher education and, ultimately, in their careers,” said the OECD report. 

Though, and contrary to popular belief, gender gaps are not due to differences in inborn abilities. The proof: in some top-performing countries like China, Singapore, Hong Kong or Taipei, there is no math gender gap. And female students perform better than male students in most of the countries taking part in the survey.


Picture: Two Children Reading, by Théophile Emmanuel Duverger (Wikipedia, w/ Effects)