Teen boys less attentive at school than girls: OECD

March 5, 2015

Teenage boys are more likely to underachieve at school than their female counterparts but more likely to go on to study science and maths, an OECD report said Thursday.

"15-year-old boys are more likely than of the same age to be low achievers," the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its study of students from 65 countries and territories.

Boys spend "one hour less per week on homework than girls", the found, which translates into significantly lower scores for reading, mathematics and science.

"Outside of school, boys spend more time playing video games than girls and less time reading for enjoyment, particularly complex texts like fiction," the OECD added.

Boys are eight percentage points more likely than girls to declare that school is a "waste of time."

However, boys do have the advantage in mathematics—in no country surveyed do girls outperform boys at this age.

"In general, girls have less self-confidence than boys in their ability to solve mathematics or science problems. Girls—even high achieving girls—are also more likely to express strong feelings of anxiety towards mathematics," the report found.

As a consequence, the OECD found that less than five percent of girls surveyed said they were considering a career in computing or engineering.

"In virtually all countries, the number of boys thinking of a career in computing or engineering exceeds the number of girls contemplating such a career," said the OECD.

Overall, over the past century, rich world countries have made "significant progress" in narrowing gender gaps.

"Given equal opportunities, and girls, men and women have equal chances of achieving at the highest levels," the OECD stressed.

The OECD report was based on data collected for the 2012 PISA education survey, which questioned more than 510,000 15-year-olds and was published three days ahead of International Women's Day.

Explore further: Girls lead boys in academic achievement globally

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