England and Wales released their A level results today for 2019. This determines which, if any, univeristy a student can go to.
The entries for the sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) continue to rise, reaching 20.9% of all A Levels (167,244) up from 19.2%, continuing the strong trend in recent years. Chemistry entries were up by 9.2%, Biology, up by 8.4% and Physics up by 3.0%. In these sciences, this year female entries have overtaken male entries, reaching 50.3% (compared to 49.6% in 2018) for the first time. The increase in entries was accompanied by a decline in A*-A outcomes across all sciences with a reduction of 1.0pp in Chemistry, 1.7pp in Physics and 1.8pp in Biology. The pass rate (A*-E) remained steady at 97.1%.
This year the increase in female entries were larger than male entries in Chemistry (11.2% compared to 6.9%) and Physics (4.9% compared to 2.5%). In the sciences reductions in A*-A outcomes were greater for males than females.
Mathematics (and English )
These are often mandatory for the leading UK univversities, so it is no surprise they lead the field. Mathematics remained the most popular subject with a total of 91,895 entries down by 5.9%. Outcomes were mixed; a small improvement at A* with 16.5% achieving this grade (compared to 15.9% in 2018), whilst the number achieving A*-A declined by 1.2pp to 41.0%. English Language and English Literature declined by 7.8% to 40,824, although English Language saw a larger decrease in entries of 21.8% to 14,114. In all English subjects the decline was larger in male entries compared to female entries, with females now outnumbering males by 3:1. The outcomes at both A* and A*-A have largely remained unchanged in all English subjects.
Update on gender patterns There are a number of changes in relation to gender. Increases in female entries outstrip those for males in several subjects. In fact, as has been previously highlighted, this has led to more female entries in the core sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) with females now constituting 50.3% of entries. This was driven by an 11.3% increase in females in Chemistry and an increase of 4.9% in Physics. Other subjects have also shown significant changes, for example Computing, whose entry has traditionally been dominantly male, saw female entries increase by 21.4%, albeit from a small entry.
All in all, good signs for the riise in female particiaption in the sciences at degree and higher levels in the years to come. Lets hope BREXIT does not impinge their ability to use the ERASMUS scheme to spread their learning across national boundaries.