The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) studies gender equality in the areas of education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that evaluates educational systems of countries all over the world. The PISA assessments and surveys occur once every three years and are meant to assess 15 year-old students on their knowledge and skills in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving, and financial literacy. The most recent PISA assessment occurred in 2015, and most countries that participate in PISA are also OECD members. PISA mathematics, science, and reading performances also serve as OECD Education indicators. The OECD (2016) found that on average, across countries that are members of OECD, boys’ mean score in science was statistically significantly higher than girls’ mean score in science. Yet, the numerical difference was very small, which was a difference of 4 points. Similarly, boys’ mean score in mathematics was significantly higher than girls’ mean score. On average, among countries that are members of OECD, boys’ mean mathematics score was 8 points higher than girls’ mean mathematics score.
Girls report worrying about math classes being hard for them more often than boys do (65% and 54% on average, respectively) (OECD Education GPS, 2016). Girls also report not being good in math more often than boys, on average (48% and 37%, respectively) (OECD Education GPS, 2016). This has global implications on the preparation and interest of girls to pursue an engineering degree and career. When it comes to career expectations, more boys than girls envisage a career in engineering and computing (average across countries providing data to OECD: 18% of boys compared to 5% of girls) (OECD Education GPS, 2016).
Student Performance in Science Portion of PISA, 2015
Student Performance in Mathematics Portion of PISA, 2015
- OECD (2016), PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264266490-en