Girls, maths and physical sciences

Ms. S.J. Rickard srickard at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Mon Mar 25 12:05:56 EST 1996


When making my selection of subjects to study at both the age of 16 and 18 
I avoided maths and physics like the plague for a simple reason. I saw 
them as very, very boring. I only studied chemistry because I had to in 
order to get anywhere in biology. Biology was the only science that 
really grabbed me and my class was predominantly female, whereas my 
chemistry class was mostly male (as was physics). My point is this (and 
it may vary from school to school or country to country),fewer girls are 
interested in maths/physics/chemistry because by their nature ( and 
usually the way they are taught) they are dry and tedious. It's not that 
boys don't also think they are boring (because in my year, believe me 
they did!) but boys have more of a social pressure to take the more 
physical sciences and maths. Girls aren't expexted to take such subjects, 
don't feel obliged to study them for the sake of it and 
plump for more interesting things. In my experience a lot of students only 
took 
maths/chemistry and physics because it was essential for a career e.g. 
medicine, not because they found them interesting or stimulating. Most 
people in my class took biology because it interested them and they 
generally WANTED to do it, not HAD to do it.
If we are to get more girls into science then we have to make science 
itself more interesting and accesible to both sexes. In Britain the 
science subjects are taught in a dry and uninspiring way and the syllabus 
tends to be limited (unless things have changed in the last 5 years).
I still find chemistry/maths/physics tedious to the extreme and I am very 
glad that I never felt pressured into taking them!!!! I will now be 
flamed to death by lurking physicists and chemists, go ahead and 
shoot...make my day!!!!!
Just a couple of pennies worth.
Sarah





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