Girls outperform boys in every core Leaving subject


GIRLS HAVE outperformed boys in every core and popular Leaving Cert subject this year, with boys having a failure rate twice as high as girls in several subjects.

An analysis of the 2009 Leaving Cert results shows a continuing gap in the performance of girls and boys in the core subjects of English, Irish and maths as well as foreign languages, history, geography and science subjects.

The only science subject where boys did better was applied maths. Boys had marginally better results at higher level and significantly better results at ordinary level in this subject.

However, in almost every other subject, girls had more honours grades and fewer failing marks at both higher and ordinary level.

The gender gap is particularly wide in the three core subjects at higher and ordinary level, but is at its most stark at ordinary level.

In ordinary level maths, 12.6 per cent of boys failed, compared with 8.5 per cent of girls. The failure rate for boys was almost 2½ times that of girls in ordinary-level English at 4.4 per cent, compared with 1.8 per cent.

While for ordinary-level Irish, the failure rate for boys was more than 2½ times that of girls, at 6.3 per cent against 2.4 per cent for girls.

At the other end of the scale in these subjects, girls achieved more honours than boys. In higher maths, 82.1 per cent of girls got honours, while just 2.5 per cent failed. In the same subject, 79.5 per cent of boys got honours, but 4 per cent failed.

In higher English, 78.9 per cent of girls got honours and 1.2 per cent failed, compared with 72.2 per cent of boys getting honours and 2.5 per cent failing.

The higher level Irish results were the most impressive of any subject for both boys and girls, but here too girls had an edge with 87.1 per cent achieving honours and just 0.6 per cent failing. While for boys the rate of honours was 85.3 per cent and the failure rate was also very low at .7 per cent.

In the sciences, girls did better overall at higher and ordinary levels. In higher physics, 76.8 per cent of girls got honours and 5.7 per cent failed, while 71.5 per cent of boys got honours and 8.6 per cent failed. Results were similar in higher chemistry; 79.2 per cent of girls got honours, 6.1 per cent failed, and 75.2 per cent of boys got honours and 8 per cent failed.

The failure rate for these sciences at ordinary level was far higher for both sexes, particularly in chemistry, where 66.9 per cent of girls got honours but a substantial 12.7 per cent failed, while 59.3 per cent of boys got honours and 18.1 per cent failed.

Ordinary-level physics failure rates, while not as bad as chemistry, were also very high; 78.7 per cent of girls got honours and 7.5 per cent failed, whereas 73.6 per cent of boys got honours and 10.4 per cent failed.

A far greater number of boys sat applied maths than girls; 792 candidates compared with 249 girls at higher level and 59 compared with 22 at ordinary level. It was one of the few subjects where boys outperformed girls scoring honours in 78.5 per cent of cases compared with 76.3 per cent for girls.

The boys still had a slightly higher failure rate at higher level – 6.3 per cent compared to 5.2 per cent, but at ordinary level their failure rate was far lower with 8.8 per cent of boys failing applied maths compared to 15.2 per cent of girls.

Girls did better in French, German, Spanish, biology, accounting, business studies and economics.