In the 1960s, boys achieved results that were on average 5% better than girls. Until the mid 1980s, boys out-performed girls at all levels of the education system, with the exception of 11+. Most educational writers read this as being 'proof' that girls were generally less intelligent than boys and that boys were 'late developers'.
There was little serious challenge to this type of thinking until the 1960s and 1970s when feminists pointed out that the better school performance of boys was not the result of the superiority of male intelligence, but that the educational experiences of boys and girls were very different. A number of studies by feminist writers such as Spender, Deem, Stanworth and Delamont pointed to the sexism of the educational system that they claimed reflected the sexism of everyday life.
In general, until the 1980s girls were usually offered a curriculum that prepared them for life in the home whereas boys were offered practical subjects such as woodwork and metal work or were encouraged to study academic subjects. Schoolbooks were written with the focus firmly on males. Even the common style of school uniform was masculine clothing of a jacket, shirt and tie, only modified with a skirt for girls. This reinforced the hidden curriculum idea that education and intelligence were masculine. Even as late as 1993, Scrimgeour investigated education with a small sample of Scottish teachers and found considerable bias in favour of males in terms of practice and materials.
In the mid-1980s, both genders began to improve their school performance significantly. The improvement of girls was more rapid than that for boys. Females are now no longer the gender associated with underachievement. They outperformed boys at every key stage level in 2007 (except Maths KS2). Girls outperformed boys at GCSE in 2007 by 9.1 percentage points....