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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 16:13 GMT
Women cleverer than men, says MP
GCSE students after receiving their results
Girls are getting more top grades than boys at GCSE and A-level
Women are brighter than men, according to the Labour chairman of the Commons education committee.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said there was a "danger" of being obsessed about how boys were doing at school.

His comments followed a committee discussion about whether girls or boys found it easier to learn to read.

"My own personal view is that women are brighter than men," the MP said, adding that women now earned on average more than men as middle managers.

First class?

He said: "We should celebrate this, shouldn't we? The brightest kids are coming through and they happen to be women."

In recent years girls have consistently outperformed boys at all levels of the education system.

The "gender gap" at GCSE level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year was 5.3 percentage points at grades A* and A and by 8.4 points at grades C and above in girls' favour.

Boys' performance had improved more than girls', however.

This was even more noticeable at A-level. Even so, 23.7% of girls' entries achieved A grades, compared to 21% of boys'.

Ninety-five per cent of boys' entries were passes, against 96.8% of girls'.

More young women than men go to university.

Schools define many more boys than girls as having special educational problems - which some researchers argue means the schools are failing to meet boys' needs.

'Wrong schooling'

In the latest major international study of the performance of 15-year-olds in maths, reading and science tests, boys out-performed girls in almost all of the 40 countries involved in maths.

In reading, girls had "significantly higher average performance" in all countries except Liechtenstein. The biggest gap was in Iceland.

Science showed the smallest average gender gap, with boys doing a little better.

American educational researchers William Draves and Julie Coates have argued that it is not boys who are the problem but schools.

While boys are developing the skills they will need in the "knowledge jobs" of the future, schools are still preparing students for a past industrial age, they have said.

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