Physics Leaving Certificate entrants by gender 2001-2018

What does this data show?

The number of female entrants taking Leaving Certificate physics in 2018 was 2075, a rise of 96 students since 2017 and the highest number of female entries since 2005. The number of female entrants has largely followed the trend of male entrants, falling almost every year between 2003 and 2014, but increasing again from 2014. The number of male entrants was slightly lower in 2018 compared to 2017 – 5460 down from 5606.

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Female entrants to physics in 2018 represent 27.5% of total physics entrants – the highest proportion of females since at least 2001. The proportion of female entrants had 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 25%.

The proportion of female entrants is above 50% in comparable STEM subjects. In chemistry, 55.5% of entrants are female. Similarly, females make up 60.1% of biology entrants and 51.7% of maths entrants.  

The disparity between male and female entrants is much smaller in these subjects than in physics. In maths there has been almost gender parity in the number of entrants, reflecting the cohort as a whole and the tendency for most students to take maths. Female entrants make up a slightly greater proportion of chemistry entrants, an average of between 55% 2001 and 2018.

Although female entrants have made up far higher proportions of biology entrants since 2001 – an average of 64%, there has been a gradual downwards trend as higher numbers of male entrants take the subject. Female entrants to Leaving Certificate biology made up 67.8% of entrants in 2001, down to 60.1% of entrants in 2018.

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