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This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI-Centre

Equal opportunities
Science education
Accidental injury
Economic support for women (opens a new page)

Equal opportunities

One review investigated equal opportunities strategies relating to girls in primary schools.  Because of the quality of the evidence, these findings were considered to be tentative:[1]

  • Single-sex settings seem to be effective in reducing stereotypical gender constructions when the aim is: to increase the self-confidence of girls and/or encourage then to experiment with non-gender-traditional activities; or to provide a setting for boys to tackle aspects of traditional forms of masculine attitudes and behaviour.
  • Mixed groups may be more effective in: encouraging cross-gender friendships; reducing stereotypical curriculum preferences, particularly with younger children; tackling stereotypical attitudes and behaviour through discussion and awareness of the perspectives of the opposite sex.
  • Intervention providers need a committed and long-term approach.
  • There are advantages in gaining support from the institution as a whole, particularly those exercising power, and adequate resourcing is essential.

Science education

  • A context-based or Science-Technology-Society approach to teaching science narrowed the gap between boys and girls in their attitude to science.[4]
  • In cases when boys enjoyed the materials significantly more than girls, this was due to the nature of the practical work in the unit; in cases when girls enjoyed context-based materials significantly more than boys, this was because of the non-practical activities in the unit.[4]  
  • Improvement of students' understanding of evidence was not significantly different for members of all-female, all-male or mixed gender pairs.  The benefit was greatest for female students when they were given several opportunities to engage with aspects of tasks related to understanding of evidence.[3] Another review found some evidence which suggests that single-sex groups may function better than mixed-sex groups, although overall development of understanding is not affected by group composition.[5]


One review found that girls reported more test anxiety than boys; they also make more internal attributions of success or failure than boys, with consequences for their self-esteem.[2]

Accidental injuries [6]

  • Many more young men than women die from drug overdoses, because more men take drugs, but women who do use drugs are at higher risk.
  • Many more young men than women are injured on the roads, though the disparity is less among car passengers. Young men had eight times more alcohol-attributable road deaths than women. Young men were more likely to take risks than young women.
  • Promotional campaigns for cycle helmet use are more likely to result in changed behaviour in younger children than in teenagers, especially girls.
  • Young men suffer more sports injuries than young women.

Economic support for women

A page on this topic can be found here.


1. A systematic review of classroom strategies for reducing stereotypical gender constructions among girls and boys in mixed–sex UK primary schools (2002)

2. A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on students' motivation for learning (2002)

3. A systematic review of the use of small-group discussions in science teaching with students aged 11-18, and their effects on students' understanding in science or attitude to science (2004)

4. The effects of context-based and Science-Technology-Society (STS) approaches in the teaching of secondary science on boys and girls, and on lower-ability pupils (2005)

5. A systematic review of the nature of small-group discussions aimed at improving students' understanding of evidence in science  (2005)

6. Accidental injury, risk-taking behaviour and the social circumstances in which young people (aged 12-24) live: a systematic review  (2007)

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