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"Bradford schools must fight boy-girl subject divide"
Schools need to do more to help children realise that the subjects they choose should not depend on their sex, according to education leaders.
A report by the Institute of Physics shows that there is a gap between the numbers of girls and boys studying some A levels, and schools are not doing enough to close the divide.
Councillor Ralph Berry, the executive member for children’s services at Bradford Council, said the problem is something that needs to be debated at a local level.
The IOP analysed pupils’ transition from GCSE to A level, when students are invited to pick subjects to study from age 16 to 18. Their research, published under the title Closing Doors, found gender bias in six subjects.
Maths, economics and physics are traditionally male-dominated and biology, psychology and English are favoured by girls, the report claims. Researchers suggested half of all state schools are doing too little to counter the stereotypical reputation of subjects.
And Yorkshire and the Humber region is below average in closing this gender gap. Coun Berry said: “It is a top priority for us. As the father of a 14-year-old girl who loves science I think it is a really important issue.
“It is important for future employment and regeneration.
“We need to challenge the stereotypes of who studies what subject.”
Belle Vue Girls’ School is one Bradford School that has bucked the trend, and last summer saw record numbers of girls get top marks in the sciences after choosing them over more traditional “girls” subjects.
Vlad Waley, assistant head at the school in Thorn Lane, Heaton, said the school had made efforts to encourage its pupils to take on such subjects.
She said: “I think a lot of it is down to guidance. We explain the importance of subjects like maths and sciences while the pupils are still quite young in years nine and ten.
“We have also had a few students who have gone out to get engineering jobs – it makes things easier when they can come in and explain the benefits to the younger pupils.”
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