Revised A Level results 2014/15: Examining the Gender Gap

A year ago, we used the DfE’s statistical first release ‘A Level and other level 3 results: 2013 to 2014 (provisional)’ to examine the gender gap at Key Stage 5.

This month, we have used the revised A Level results (2014/15) [1] to see what’s changed a year on.

Revised A Level results 2014/15: Examining the Gender Gap

Click on the infographic to filter the data and explore in more detail


The gender gap in overall A Level entries has increased sharply this year, from 67,771 more female entries in 2014, to 76,615 more female entries in 2015. The gap has continued to grow year-on-year, with a few subjects in particular seeming to account for this. This year, the top five female-dominated subjects are: English (35,907 more entries), Psychology (27,938 more female entries), Art and Design (21,489 more female entries), Sociology (15,939 more female entries), and Biological Sciences (11,714 more female entries).

By way of contrast, the top five male-dominated subjects reflect a much smaller gender gap: Mathematics (18,366 more male entries), Physics (18,302 more male entries), Economics (9,174 more male entries), Further Mathematics (6,059 more male entries), and Business Studies (4,703 more male entries).

As in previous years, humanities subjects continue to draw more female entries, whilst STEM subjects are still largely male-dominated.

A*/A grades

The percentage of A Level entries resulting in an A*/A grade remains static from last year, with 26.7% of female entries and 26.6% of male entries resulting in a top grade. Between 2002 and 2008 the gender gap in A*/A grades was quite prominent, with over 2% more female entrants achieving an A*/A grade each year. However this gap has been declining since 2012, largely due to a decrease in the percentage of females achieving top grades.

Interestingly, whilst females outperform males in all five of the top female-dominated subjects, males only outperform females in one of the top five male-dominated subjects. In Mathematics, 43.5% of male entries resulted in an A*/A grade (compared to 41.4% of female entries). However, female entries in the remaining male-dominated subjects resulted in a greater percentage of A*/A grades: Physics, 35.2% of female entries, compared to 30.5% of males entries; Economics 35.9% compared to 30.3%; Further Mathematics 58.8% compared to 57.1%; and Business Studies 16.3% compared to 13.9%.

At Learning Plus UK, we will continue to monitor the gender gap with each year’s A Level results, and will watch with interest to see whether the newly reformed A Levels will have any impact on either entries or attainment.

We are always interested to hear what you think, so please explore our interactive infographic and join us on Twitter @learningplusuk, on our Post-16 Learning Forum or LinkedIn group to let us know!

To help you monitor performance of males and females at your centre, our Post-16 LPUK Datadashboard includes Level 3 performance analysis by gender and other characteristics, making it easier for you to identify any areas of concern. Click here to access the demo and explore the Post-16 LPUK Datadashboard.

[1] DfE, SFR03 - A level and other level 3 results: 2014 to 2015 (revised)

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