A schoolgirl is a girl attending either primary or secondary school. They are generally aged between four and eighteen years old.
In general, girls perform more poorly than boys on standardized tests. This has led to calls for greater equality in the school system. The disparity in test scores is attributed to a number of factors, such as girls being generally less aggressive than boys and thus getting less attention from the teachers, gender-bias in test questions, or a gender difference in proficiency at essay and fill-in questions versus multiple choice. According to The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, "despite the fact that females earn higher grades throughout both high school and college, they consistently receive lower scores on the exam than do their male counterparts. In 2001, females averaged 35 points lower than males on the Math section of the test, and 3 points lower on the Verbal section."
Some researchers, such as Howe, have found that schoolgirls respond less well to a competitive environment than do schoolboys, and some argue that girls are better suited to a single sex classroom environment.
One of the factors hampering girls in the developing world is attending school in the first place. The United Nations has argued that given that "Two-thirds of illiterates are women", they argue that we should work to "Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015". This was set out by the UN as a Millennium Development Goal.
In many schools, girls are required to wear school uniforms. For many girls, this gives them a sense of collective identity, unity and equality. For others, the fact that they are forced to wear a particular type of clothing (such as a dress) is a source of frustration and tension.