La Trobe University’s recent all female honours level and above graduands in Mathematics and Statistics completely debunks the social stigma that maths is traditionally seen as a man’s game.
Recent research conducted in 86 countries suggests that culture is the culprit to the maths gender gap and in countries with more gender equality the mathematical divide is less evident.
Professor Brian Davey, Head of La Trobe’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics said that he was proud to see all the honours level and above graduands made up of six brilliant women.
‘For almost as long as I can remember, the percentage of females amongst La Trobe's undergraduate mathematics and statistics has been particularly high. More recently, we have seen this extend beyond undergraduate studies into honours and above.'
‘Indeed, in Mathematics and Statistics in 2011 there were 13 female PhD students to 7 males, and 9 female honours students to 6 males.
‘It was only amongst the coursework masters students where males outnumbered females, but just 6 to 4. Overall, there were 26 females to 19 males at honours level or above,’ Professor Davey said.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Science with Honours and Graduate Diploma in Mathematical and Information Science, Jacinda Barnard thinks that up until recent years, maths and statistics were typically seen as a man’s domain.
‘The changes in approach to secondary level mathematics and science education in recent years, particularly in teaching ways to improve problem solving, logic and spatial skills, has helped to begin to bridge the gender gap in participation rates in careers in these fields,’ Jacinda said.
Jacinda thinks that more women in the area brings another dimension and opportunity for new developments and contributions to the field, ‘It is a little known fact that Florence Nightingale (19th century founder of modern nursing) was also a pioneering statistician of her time. In 1859, she was the first elected female member of the Royal Statistical Society,’ she said.
Jacinda hopes to follow a career as a sports or gaming statistician, and is also reconsidering returning to La Trobe to complete her Masters or PhD in statistics – with a view to become a biostatistician and work in media research.
Nicole Humphreys, Media and Communications Unit
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