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Excerpt from Girls’ schools buck decline in maths participation (Opinion), Loren Bridge, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2022

Girls’ participation in maths – and indeed all STEM subjects – has long been a topic of global concern. In particular, schools, educators and parents have sought out strategies to keep girls engaged and participating in advanced maths and science in secondary school.

Despite efforts to engage girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), recent HSC data shows that girls’ involvement in higher-level maths is steadily declining — yet data from the Victorian Certificate for Education shows that girls at single-sex schools are 85 per cent more likely to take advanced mathematics than girls in co-ed schools.

There are many foundational aspects that foster interest and enthusiasm for STEM subjects at girls’ schools, and this can begin as early as preschool. Recent research with preschool aged children has found — once again — that boys dominate the STEM-focused play areas, such as building blocks in sandpits, while girls only gain access over time by adopting “helping” roles, such as passing blocks or fetching materials. These gender biases may be established in the early years, but they are reinforced in primary and secondary school. In girls’ schools, these gender biases are simply absent.

Read more on SMH Online.

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