Choose Maths: Girls Encouraged as Report Reveals Continuing Decline

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The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) is urging girls to keep their options open and embrace advanced mathematics, as its latest Year 12 Mathematics Participation Report Card reveals participation is in decline.

Released to coincide with today’s AMSI Choose Maths International Women’s Day Careers event in Brisbane, new AMSI figures reveal only 6.9 per cent of Year 12 girls took Hgher (advanced) maths in 2017 compared to 12.2 per cent of boys. By comparison in 2008, 7.3 per cent of Year 12 girls and 13.8 per cent of boys took Higher (advanced) mathematics.The continuation of a 20-year decline, this deepening mathematics deficit threatens capacity at a time when industry demand for these skills is soaring.

With mathematically skilled graduates in growing demand across most industry sectors, AMSI Director, Professor Tim Brown, said the figures were of significant concern as students shut themselves out of future job opportunities.

“Mathematics is the doorway to a multitude of exciting pathways. With most students expected to change careers throughout their lives, it is the swiss army knife of skills providing the agility and flexibility to adapt to new and emerging opportunities,” he said.

With over 200 Year 10 and 11 girls from across 15 Brisbane schools expected at today’s International Women’s Day event and many more tuning into the livestream nationally, AMSI is hoping to inspire a new generation to choose maths and keep their future open.

AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director, Janine Sprakel (McIntosh) said the event aimed to answer the big questions of why maths is important and how it is used in the real world. Linkages, she believes are critical to keep students engaged through to Year 12 and beyond.

“We want students, particularly girls, to understand the value of sticking with mathematics and its power as an enabler with wonderous real-life applications. We hope students leave today’s event excited about maths and where it might take them,” she said.

During the event, students will be given a close-up view of real-world mathematics, as a panel of Choose Maths Careers Ambassadors share their stories and how they use maths and statistics in their day-to-day jobs.

“Girls should and can excel at mathematics. Events like this and the chance to engage with stories of the Choose Maths Careers Ambassadors is essential to challenging gender narratives in and beyond the classroom,” said Janine Sprakel (McIntosh).

Launched in 2017 in partnership with the BHP Foundation, the AMSI Choose Maths Careers Awareness campaign aims to place mathematics learning in the context of real-world application, helping students, teachers and parents understand its power as a career pathway. The campaign has placed a range of resources, including inspiring posters and videos at the fingertips of teachers, students and parents.

Resources
https://choosemaths.org.au/intwomensday/
https://careers.amsi.org.au

Download full report:
https://amsi.org.au/preview-year-12-mathematics-participation-in-australia-2008-2017/

Graphs for Media
https://amsi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/participation_yr_12_2017.pdf

https://amsi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/percentage_higher_maths_2017.pdf

https://amsi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/percentage_intermediate_maths_2017.pdf

Media Details
Photographs, filming and interviews welcome. Students available for comment.

Available for interview at the event: Dr Susan Susan James, Students, Careers Ambassadors

About Choose Maths
Delivered by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and supported by the BHP Foundation, Choose Maths is a $22 million national project aimed at empowering Australian students to pursue mathematics. Since launching in 2015, the project has worked with teachers, parents and students and Australia communities to challenge community attitudes to mathematics and statistics as a career choice particularly, for girls and young women. https://choosemaths.org.au

About the BHP Foundation
The BHP Foundation works to address some of the most critical global sustainable development challenges facing our generation. By working in partnership with others we seek to raise the bar, find new solutions and set new standards for the future. In Australia we focus on Indigenous governance, and programs that harness the potential of young people through initiatives related to early childhood development, education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and mental health and wellbeing.  www.bhp.com/foundation

For Interview:
Students available for interview
Professor Tim Brown, AMSI Director
Janine Sprakel (McIntosh), Program Manager – AMSI Schools & Choose Maths Project Director
Dr Susan James, Choose Maths Careers Awareness/Awards

Media Contact: Laura Watson
E: media@amsi.org.au
P: 04215 18733

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