Education and outreach

Improving Gender Balance research trial

A whole-school approach to removing barriers to subject choice.

Improving Gender Balance is a national research trial, funded by the Department for Education and led by the Institute of Physics. It will be independently evaluated by UCL Institute of Education.

For more than 30 years, only a fifth of those taking A-level physics have been girls. We have a goal to redress this gender imbalance and have researched this area for many years.

Read the reports we have published on addressing gender imbalance

A previous pilot project in six schools saw the number of girls taking A-level physics more than treble after two years. Improving Gender Balance builds on the findings from this project, to test the approach at scale across England. 

We have recruited and are working with secondary schools to:

  • increase girls' progression to A-level physics
  • create more awareness of the importance of understanding and recognising gender stereotyping as limiting the choices of both boys and girls
  • promote inclusive teaching and careers education

How will we know if the project has had impact?

This research project is being run as a randomised control trial (RCT). An RCT is a rigorous and scientific approach which compares outcomes of a group that was involved in the programme against a control group that wasn’t. We are working with just under 150 schools across England, half in the control group, and half in the intervention group. The results of the trial will be independently analysed and evaluated by UCL Institute of Education using the National Pupil Database.

What’s involved?

Schools in the intervention group work closely with an IOP Coach to implement a bespoke evidence-led programme of interventions, including:

  • support and continuing professional development for teachers
  • development of a whole-school strategy to combat gender stereotyping
  • inclusive careers education and student voice initiatives 

Contact us

To find out more about the project or our gender balance work, please email