AMSI’s State of Mathematical Sciences, its seventh periodic discipline profile document providing a detailed snapshot of the condition of the mathematical sciences, has been released today coinciding with global May 12 ‘Women in Maths’ celebrations.
This latest discipline profile reinforces that the challenges of historically significant times are intensifying the importance of mathematical sciences in sustaining the health and social wellbeing of the Australian people. The document recognises that a thriving mathematical sciences discipline and the capability provided by this is crucial to informing essential guidance needed by governments and the health sector, enabling the nation’s return to economic security and future prosperity.
Recent prominence of mathematical modelling by Australian female scientists in the epidemiology and the biomedical science sectors has exposed these accomplished women and this aspect of the mathematical sciences to new audiences. As part of the May 12 celebrations, AMSI is delighted to participate through release of this latest discipline profile. An undesirable paradox is that the profile reveals that with only 7 percent of girls studying higher mathematics in Year 12 compared to a 12 percent figure for boys, gender imbalance in secondary school mathematics threatens to diminish the feasibility of a comparable contribution by future generations of female scientists in Australia.
Another key concern is the deepening of Australia’s ‘mathematics deficit’ with a sustained decline in the proportion of the senior secondary school population pursuing calculus-based mathematics subjects. This ongoing issue is compounded by a high proportion of secondary school teachers possessing no methodology training in mathematics.
With entrenched gender and equity imbalance, Australia needs to employ all efforts in exposing young people to the power and beauty of mathematics, persuading more of them to make it their profession as teachers, researchers, or government and industry professionals.