The question of how and why gender continues
to act as a catalyst for engagement with, or withdrawal from, various aspects of schooling
is continually being explored. We’ve seen it a lot in Mathematics, and
new research is uncovering how a similar story is being mirrored when it comes to physical
activity. The Suncorp Youth and Confidence Research
Report has shown that around one-third of girls have stopped playing sport, simply because
they don’t think they’re good at it. Researchers surveyed over 500 parents. More than 300 boys and 300 girls
between the ages of 11 and 17 also completed a survey.
46 per cent of females aged 15-17 said they’re playing less sport, or no sport at all, compared
to 12 months ago. For boys, it was 30 per cent of respondents who said this was the
case for them. The age of 16 seems to be a tipping point
for girls and their involvement in sport. 61 per cent of respondents with a daughter
aged 16 or 17 said their daughter is engaged in fewer than five hours of physical activity
per week. 46 per cent of parents with daughters aged 13-15 had this same response.
We’re seeing similar patterns in Mathematics. TIMSS data show that 49 per cent of females
say they’re ‘not confident in maths’ compared to just 36 per cent of boys.
A report published in the Australian Journal of Education from 2018 looked at the difference
in enrolment between genders in advanced Mathematics subjects in the final year of secondary school
in Australia. It found that 13 per cent of boys study advanced mathematics, compared
to just 8 per cent of girls. Just five per cent of girls expected to have
a career in mathematics, compared to 20 per cent of boys.

Girls’ confidence in sport and mathematics
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