PublicationsTopic index of systematic reviewsKnowledge pagesGender
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.

A review focusing on low-income countries, and in particular Malawi and Bangladesh, investigated the kind of interventions that are suggested by research evidence to lead to an expansion and improvement in girls’ education. [7] It also considers evidence on the relationship between an expansion and improvement in girls’ education and a deepening of gender equality. Although concluding that the field was under-researched, it did reach the following conclusions.

  • The effectiveness of resource interventions depends on careful targeting of educationally under-resourced families, and thoughtful design of programmes to focus on girls most at risk. Complementary in-kind health interventions can enhance enrolment and lead to learning gains for both boys and girls.
  • The effectiveness of infrastructural interventions is enhanced when they are linked with processes associated with learning and teaching.
  • Interventions concerned with the distribution of resources and infrastructure were more likely to be associated with improvements in girls’ attendance, enrolment and grade attainment than with girls’ empowerment within school or broader gender equality outcomes.
  • It is important to have thriving teachers who are adequately supported and trained to enhance girls’ schooling. Sufficient resources for gender mainstreaming can help embed a concern with gender in educational institutions. Effective interventions are associated with a combination of different approaches to enhancing quality, such as: explicit concern with gender equality in teaching, learning and management; attention to curriculum, learning materials and pedagogical practices for schools and classrooms; and close attention to local context. Successful interventions associated with institutional change and policy within the education sector may also impact on gender equality outcomes more broadly.

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)

7. Interventions to enhance girls’ education and gender equality: an education rigorous review (2014)

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