Stereotyping still strong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am

Gender stereotypes are still affecting the performance of boys and girls in maths and reading, an OECD study has found.

Boys do better in maths by age 15 in all but eight countries taking part in the organisation's Programme for International Student Assessment, despite them doing equally well at the end of primary school, according to the study released this week.

Girls do better in reading at the end of primary school but pull further ahead in secondary school. And girls' lead in reading has grown since 2000 in eight OECD countries: Japan, Australia, France, Italy, Greece, Norway, Iceland and Mexico.

In science, boys and girls do equally well across most OECD countries. But girls perform better in Greece and Turkey, while boys do better in Britain, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico and Switzerland.

The gender-based differences in particular subjects were shown up by the systematic comparison of the scores in the PISA test, which is taken every three years by students in OECD countries, and other countries and regions including Hong Kong. The overall performance of boys and girls in PISA is broadly similar.

The researchers found that the performance patterns in reading and maths mirrored students' motivation and attitudes, with girls being much more interested in reading than but more anxious about maths.