Girls outperform boys in GCSE grades – but will still be paid less

Thursday 24 August 2017

Girls outperform boys in GCSE grades – but will still be paid less 

YWTResponding to today’s GCSE results, which saw two thirds of the new top ‘9’ grade going to girls, Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“Today’s results saw girls gaining two thirds of the top GCSE grades, yet, despite this, they are likely to struggle to break into many well-paid industries and to go on to be paid less than men. 

“Girls face a particular struggle to get into science, technology, engineering and maths careers. Girls were not far behind boys in obtaining the best maths grades and outperformed boys in engineering and construction GCSEs. But they are less likely to take maths and physics A Levels and only a fraction undertake construction, engineering or tech apprenticeships. Instead, women are more likely to go down a route that is – wrongly – valued less by society and paid less. 

“We have growing skills gaps in industries like construction and engineering that are holding businesses and the economy back. While women continue to face barriers to gaining relevant qualifications, those gaps will remain. 

“More needs to be done from an early age to help women into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Role models in schools, women’s taster sessions and better careers advice would be a good start. Supporting women into STEM A Levels and apprenticeships as a next step after GCSEs is vital too.” 


Notes to editor: 

  1. GCSE results tables, broken down by gender, were released on 24 August 2017 and are available here. They show that:
    1. girls gained two thirds of the new ‘9’ grades awarded, which were introduced this year for English Language, English Literature and Mathematics;
    2. girls outperformed boys in most subjects including construction and engineering; and
    3. girls did better than boys in English and were close behind in maths.
  2. Last week’s A Level results (available here) showed a significant gender divide in the number of people taking up STEM and non-STEM subjects:
    1. 37,212 women sat maths exams this year compared to 58,032 men – a difference of 20,820;
    2. 7,102 women sat physics exams compared to 26,398 men – with women making up one in five of the total number of students.
  1. Young Women’s Trust research shows that gender divides in apprenticeships remain stark, with men being far more likely to enter industries like construction, engineering and IT, which give trainees higher pay, more training and better job prospects than women-dominated areas like beauty, care and administration. The charity’s report, Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women, provides recommendations on how to support more women into STEM areas.
  2. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.

For more information or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or