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November 13, 2003

Girls On Top

A recent OECD survey has shown that girls are out-performing boys at every level of education in developed countries worldwide. According to Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, "the success of girls is a complete reversal of what would have been expected a generation ago." Girls also have more confidence about their future. In the UK for example, 63% of girls expect to have "white collar, high-skilled" jobs by the time they are 30, compared to only 51% of boys. Such figures are also seen in the US, Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Australia. In terms of literacy skills, 15-year old girls are ahead of boys in every one of the 43 countries in the survey, with a gender gap of 26% in the UK. These figures continue to be reflected in the numbers of students who go on to third-level education. In New Zealand, 89% of women enter university, compared to 62% of men; in Iceland, the numbers are 80% and 42%; in the UK, 49% and 41%. A major trend seen in the survey results is that boys' academic performance seems more likely to be affected by external influences, such as peer pressure or problems at home.

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