This Maths Action paper attempts to understand why girls do not continue to study maths after GCSE level, and consequently fail to pursue careers in maths related areas. The most recent statistics show us that in 2014, of the A level papers taken by girls only 8.5% were in Maths A Level or Further Maths A Level, compared to 16.9% of boys (Joint Council for Qualifications ‘Cumulative percentages of Subject Results by Grade and by Gender’. 2014). When one considers the crucial need for maths in order to succeed in every-day life as well as in all workplaces, it is clear how this disadvantages women in their life.
However, as Elizabeth Truss, when Minister for Education and Child Care, said:
“Getting girls to take an interest in maths and science isn’t just about improving their earnings potential, as it’s also about improving the country’s economic and educational performance.” (The Guardian newspaper, 8th December 2014, ‘A gender gap that simply doesn’t add up’)
One can easily see the evidence of this loss of creativity and talent, for example in the fact that only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. (Women in Engineering Statistics 2014, from Royal Academy of Engineering analysis of the Labour Force Survey, 2004–2010, quoted in Diversity data, RAEng, 20)
The present study was designed to focus on one girls’ secondary academy and to investigate why, even though at GCSE 90% of girls gained A*–C passes in maths, only 22% chose to study maths in Year 12.
Download the paper: What’s It Got To Do With Me? Primary research into attitudes to maths of Year 9 (13–14 year olds) and Year 12 (16–17 year olds), by Diane Carrington, M.Sc. Psych. PGCE, a survey commissioned by Maths Action.