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Excerpt from Why girls are shying away from HSC extension maths, Daniella White, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 July 2022

The proportion of girls studying maths at the highest levels in the HSC is at its lowest in more than 20 years, despite ongoing efforts to encourage women into STEM subjects.

The data also shows a move to make advanced or extension mathematics prerequisites in dozens of NSW university courses in 2019 has so far failed to boost stagnating enrolments among both boys and girls.

While cumulative enrolments of the three advanced maths courses offered at HSC level have fallen 12 per cent in 20 years, participation in the easier standard maths courses has risen 15 per cent in the same period.

The percentage of people choosing to do the easiest maths (Standard Mathematics 1), which can be taken as an ATAR or non-ATAR subject, has increased almost 30 per cent since it was introduced in 2014.

Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of NSW Kim Beswick said it was worrying that fewer students were choosing to do higher-level maths because it limited their options for careers in STEM.

“The reasons for it are probably many and complicated,” she said. “There’s research that says that students don’t choose maths because they judge it to be too difficult and that it will take too much of their time in HSC. They also lack confidence in their ability to succeed in maths.”

Read more on SMH Online.

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