Why do girls perform better than boys in school?

You have no doubt heard it said that girls normally do not do as well as boys in maths or science, and that girls get better grades in languages and humanities. These assumptions have been bandied around for so long that some parents and teachers accept them as fact. However, instead of blindly accepting these statements, you should ask yourself whether there is any concrete evidence to support them.

Well, according to research, the reverse is actually true. Girls tend to outperform boys, having consistently posting better scores in most subjects for some time now. This is according to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) referenced by The Economist in an article published last year.

The study examined how 15-year-old students performed at mathematics, reading and science. While boys scored marginally better at maths, the grades in the sciences showed no significant variance between the genders. The research did, however, reveal that overall boys were more likely to struggle in their studies and perform more poorly than girls.

These findings are supported by research conducted by the University of New Brunswick in Canada, which reviewed data gathered from over 300 studies involving more than 1.1 million children across the globe. The data, which ranged from 1914 to 2011, revealed that girls from different parts of the world have been consistently outdoing boys in schoolwork at different levels, ranging from infant school to secondary school to college.

The evidence points to the fact that girls have been scoring higher grades and posting better performances than boys, contrary to what most people believe. If you are in doubt about this, you can do your own study by comparing the performance of an all-girls school with outstanding results, such as Hornsey School for Girls, with that of a similarly-performing all-boys school.

The results of all-girls schools show that, given the chance and a conducive environment, girls are capable of sterling academic performance. Read any Hornsey School for Girls school report from Ofsted to see how this premier institution balances academics and co-curricular activities to help its pupils excel.

If these studies and reports have made you curious about why girls are doing better than boys in school, read on. According to researchers, certain cultural and social factors could be responsible for the disparity in performance. Some of these include:

Differences in learning styles.

Researchers noticed there was a gender difference in the students’ learning styles; girls generally read to understand subjects, while boys normally put emphasis on their performance or final grades. As a result, girls retained more knowledge than boys.

Girls reading more than boys

It was also discovered that girls read more than boys, thereby increasing their reading proficiency. Since boys do not read as much, their learning is greatly impeded, leading to poor performance in school.

Girls spending more time on homework

You might have noticed that your daughter spends more time doing her homework compared to your son. Researchers discovered that boys normally spent more of their free time after school playing video games or using the internet. Homework set by teachers is often a follow-up to classwork, and can lead to better grades. Therefore, students who spend little to no time on their homework rarely perform well in school.

Parents encouraging girls more than boys

Additionally, parents tend to assume that boys are naturally good at maths or science. As a result, they give daughters more support and encouragement, while overlooking how sons are doing. This gives the girls a slight edge over boys when it comes to academic performance.

Peer pressure

Boys are more likely to believe early on that school is beneath them, meaning they will be more disruptive in class. This can lead to teachers marking them down; the gender gap with regards to reading performance is reduced by a third when teachers do not know the gender of the pupil whose test they are marking.

As a parent, there are several things you can do to ensure that both your boys and girls perform well in school. Firstly, get your son to spend more time on his homework and studies, and spend less time playing video games and going online. Secondly, encourage them to expand their reading to include books from different genres, not just comics or science fiction novels.

Lastly, and perhaps most important of all, you should abandon the harmful and limiting stereotypes that say one gender is better than the other in particular subjects. With the right support from teachers and parents, any student who puts in the hard work to master their subjects can perform well in school.

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