PCAP scores show no gender gap in math and sciences, but women's STEM participation still lags

October 8, 2014

Girls at the grade-8 level have closed the gap in science and math scores, according to the latest results from the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP). Overall, PCAP results show that students in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador outperformed the Canadian average in science; students in Quebec performed better than the national average in mathematics; and students in Ontario had a higher score than the Canadian average in reading. PCAP test results show that there is no longer a significant gender gap in science and mathematics scores; however, between 2010 and 2013, only girls saw a significant increase in mathematics scores. These findings point to another issue: the decline in female participation in STEM fields as girls progress into high school and eventually PSE. While the proportion of women in engineering programs in Ontario climbed nearly 2% between 2005 and 2012, Canada lags behind countries including Turkey, India, and China in correcting the gender imbalance in STEM participation. Some researchers point to gendered expectations and peer pressure in high school as having a negative impact, while others advocate more parental engagement and the incorporation of social and collaborative learning techniques in STEM education. Globe and Mail | CMEC News Release | Full PCAP Report