Gender and achievement in English language arts, science and mathematics in secondary schools in Nigeria

The education of girls and women in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has long been thought of as very crucial for national development. This study investigated whether gender differences might occur in scores attained by Nigerian students on standard subject matter examinations for English Language, Mathematics and Biology in year 2 of Junior Secondary School and Year 2 of Senior Secondary School. Purposive sampling was used to select seven secondary schools in South-South Nigeria. Of the seven schools, four were private and three were public government secondary schools. Scores for 570 students, who were all the students who took the examinations during the 2003-2014 year formed the data for this study. To assess if gender differences exist in students’ examination performances, mean examination scores and standard deviations for males and females were calculated separately within each of the three content areas, as well as means and standard deviations for each gender by school level (Junior Secondary School or Senior Secondary School ) within the content areas. Female students performed significantly higher than male students in English Language. At the junior level, female Mathematics scores are only marginally significantly better; while at the senior level, male scores are somewhat (but not significantly) better than female scores. At the junior secondary level female scores in Biology were significantly higher but at the senior secondary school level, the difference was not statistically significant Based on these findings, recommendations were made to ensure the performance of both sexes.