Girls ‘lack the confidence’ for Oxbridge

Boys are twice as likely to be accepted on to elite courses


Girls are severely damaging their chances of getting a place at Oxford or Cambridge because they lack confidence.

New data shows boys are almost twice as likely to be accepted onto the more elite courses such as Maths and Law.

Girls could be underplaying their success because they often have too little faith in their abilities.

What’s more they apparently “over-rehearse” for interviews and can be “too self critical”.

Admissions consultancy Oxford Applications, who examines acceptable figures across Oxbridge, discovered a “worrying gender gap”.

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Less girls are getting into Oxbridge for Law and Maths

Between 2012 and 2014, 20 per cent of male applicants were accepted to study maths at both Oxford and Cambridge compared to just 12 per cent of female students.

The number of male law candidates accepted over this period was 23 per cent at Cambridge and 20 per cent at Oxford, while the respective figures for women were 20 and 17 per cent.

For English, 27 per cent of male candidates were successful in the subject at Oxford over the last three years compared to 20 per cent of females.

At Cambridge, the figures were 28 per cent for men and 26 per cent for women.

Despite this, Economics was far more balanced, with girls just two per cent behind boys on average.

And in PPE the position was even reversed as the acceptance rate for boys was 23 per cent and 26 per cent for girls.

But in medicine, success rates were three percentage behind the boys at both Oxford and Cambridge.

The gender divide has remained the same at Oxbridge for the past few yeas, which is in complete contrast from the rest of the country’s unis.

Last year, 56 per cent of entrants into higher education were female, according UCAS.

Certain subjects at Oxbridge are still an all-boys club

Certain subjects at Oxbridge are still an all-boys club

Rebecca Williams, head of Oxbridge Applications, said a large part of the problem was that female candidates often sold themselves short.

She said: “In my experience, girls, even if they get top grades, will tend to think they are not good enough. I suspect this deters many from applying in the first place even if they’re perfectly capable.”

“Admissions tutors want to see how students respond when they don’t know the answer.

“Unfortunately, girls in particular can be reluctant to take risks, to articulate intelligently what they don’t know.

“Girls’ parents are often nervous that they are working too hard applying to Oxbridge.

“But in reality they are often over-rehearsing – trying to think of every conceivable answer to every possible question – and that is just as bad.”

A Cambridge University spokesman said: “The university makes all offers following assessment based upon academic profile and potential, never on gender.

“While male applicants record higher success rates in some subjects in some years, it is equally true that acceptance rates for women match or exceed those for men in others.”

An Oxford University spokeswoman said: “We also recognise that female applicants are more likely to suffer from lack of confidence in the strength of their applications.

“We try to address this both in our outreach work in schools and our training of admissions tutors – particularly interview training, which addresses areas such as cultural and gender-based variations in confidence and expression.”