Physics Leaving Certificate entrants by gender 2001-2016

What does this data show?

The number of female entrants taking Leaving Certificate physics in 2016 is 1868; a fall of just 7 entrants compared to 2015, which saw the highest number of female entrants since 2007. The number of female entrants has largely followed the trend of male entrants, falling almost every year between 2003 and 2014, but rising between 2013 and 2016 by 347 entrants, or 22.8%.

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However, female entrants in physics 2016 represent just 24.1% of all physics entrants, and this proportion has seen very little change since 2001. The proportion of female entrants has fluctuated by just 2.7 percentage points between 2001 and 2016 – from a high of 26.4% in 2006 to a low of 23.6% in 2013 - with an average proportion of 24.9%.

In comparable STEM subjects, the proportion of female entrants has rarely dipped below 50% since 2001 (aside from maths entrants in a number of years since 2010). Female entrants thus make up the majority in these subjects.

At the same time, the disparity between the genders is much smaller for these subjects than in physics. In maths there has been almost parity in the number of entrants between the genders, with the average proportion of female entrants between 2001 and 2016 being 50.8% - 49.7% in 2016. Female entrants make up a slightly greater proportion of chemistry entrants, an average of 54.9% between 2001 and 2016 with female students comprising 54.5% of 2016 entrants.

Although female entrants have made up far higher proportions of biology entrants since 2001 – an average of 64.5%, there has been a gradual downwards trend as higher numbers of male entrants take the subject. In particular, the growth in the number of male entrants has been greater in recent years; male entrants have grown by 29.2% since 2010 while female entrants have only grown by 9.3%. Female entrants to Leaving Certificate biology made up 67.8% of entrants in 2001, and make up 59.7% of entrants in 2016.

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