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A study of gender, self-perception, and mathematics: The 2020 England, Wales, and Northern Ireland PISA Field Trial

Hill, Mark; Custodio, Irene; Golding, Jennie; Grima, Grace; (2021) A study of gender, self-perception, and mathematics: The 2020 England, Wales, and Northern Ireland PISA Field Trial. Presented at: AEA-Europe conference 2021, Online conference. Green open access

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Abstract

Contrasts between female and male participation in mathematics, while not a new concern, remain important. Normatively it is a question of social justice: if females are disproportionately excluded due to conscious or unconscious decisions, these need to be addressed. Pragmatically it is an economic issue: failure to engage females in STEM subjects may impact national economic heath (Smith, 2014). While there has been positive news in the UK recently – 2019 was the first year more females than males took STEM A-levels – females continue to enrol in mathematics at substantially lower rates than males (Ofqual, 2020), and while some work has been done to address this, it has had little measurable impact (MEI, 2016). This paper offers an overview of factors which are known to impact this issue via the 2020 England, Wales, and Northern Ireland PISA Field Trial. It does this by focusing on the following five areas (Smith, 2014). Self-assessment The FT shows a statistically significant disproportion of females do not believe mathematics is easy for them (contrary to males) despite there being no clear statistical relationship between this and their actual maths grades. This is problematic as A-Level mathematics continues to be a demanding subject taken by a ‘clever core’ (Matthews & Pepper, 2007), and failure to recognise oneself as part of this core may limit perceived options. Enjoyment Students are more likely to continue studying mathematics if they have positive emotional responses to it (Mujtaba & Reiss, 2013). The FT, however, shows females enjoy mathematics less than their male peers. It is ranked as their least favourite subject, even amongst nearly 40% of the females who reported mathematics as easy. Additionally, a significant proportion of females report being more frequently upset in class, and ten times as many females than males report anxiety “all or almost all of the time” while in class. Interest While causes of interest in mathematics are numerous (Thoman, 2014; Tripney, 2010), interest is itself a prerequisite for females choosing to study it (Brown, 2008). However, females more frequently report a lack of interest during mathematics lessons and are statistically less interested in pursuing a career involving mathematical and adjacent skills.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: A study of gender, self-perception, and mathematics: The 2020 England, Wales, and Northern Ireland PISA Field Trial
Event: AEA-Europe conference 2021
Location: Online conference
Dates: 03 - 06 November 2021
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://2021.aea-europe.net/
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157466
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