The Age Atar Results: Girls outperformed boys in 16 of the 20 most popular VCE subjects last year, with boys’ academic ascendancy limited to maths and chemistry.
An analysis of VCE data shows girls also outnumbered boys in many top subjects, including English, further mathematics, psychology, health and human development, and business management.
Tutor and former VCE chemistry teacher James Kennedy, here tutoring year 9 and 10 students, has analyzed VCE results in data for 2023.
But boys heavily outnumbered girls in specialist maths and mathematical methods, and in physics.
The Age Atar Results: The gender imbalance was revealed in an analysis of VCE data completed by James Kennedy, a VCE chemistry teacher, and director of Kennedy College, a tuition center in Surrey Hills. Kennedy, who teaches in NGOs including Haileybury, Wesley, and Loreto, said in his experience that students’ enthusiasm to study mathematics and science is motivated by a desire to take a course at university, instead of a love of learning.
“Chemistry is interesting and relevant in our daily lives, but that’s not why students choose it; it’s because it’s a need for medicine,” he said.
VCE data show that biological inscriptions are gaining weight in women and physics in men, while chemistry is increasing in women.
Topics in which the difference in performance was favored by women included mostly media (10 percent points), visual communication design (9 percent points), studio art (9 percent points), and health and development. in humans (8 percentage points).
The Age Atar Results: In English, the only compulsory subject of VCE, women have 4 percentage points above men. Men had the largest predominance in mathematics (3 percentage points), mathematical techniques, and chemistry (2 percentage points), followed by supplementary mathematics (1 percentage point).
Subjects, where the entry was most biased against women, included studio art (76 percent women), health and human development (75 percent women), and literature (72 percent women).
Subjects with a predominance of men included physics (77 percent men), accounting (64 percent men), and specialized mathematics (63 percent men).
The Age Atar Results: Data analysis did not include a small number of students identified as gender X
The Age Atar Results: Greg Ashman, head of research at Ballarat Clarendon College and a mathematics teacher at VCE, said teachers have been thinking for years about encouraging more women to study mathematics, but have had only modest success. She said that although there was no natural reason why women were less inclined to study mathematics, successive campaigns to support women in science and mathematics still had to overcome harsh stereotypes.
“Our approach seems to be to take a successful scientist or mathematician and let them tell women, and that inspires and excites them for mathematics,” Ashman said.
“Such encouragement lasts about 20 minutes and disappears compared to the ongoing social pressure. It’s just not very effective.”
The Age Atar Results: There were even more boys than selected girls in the selected schools, as the test became more difficult
But Ashman said it is also true that many men rely on math and science because they are disciplines where they have an academic background.
“It could be about the weakness of men in other areas, which is part of this dynamic,” he said. The analysis follows the release of nationwide data last week, which fell 12 public higher and middle maths this year, with only one in 10 students attending higher math in the final year of high school.
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Attendance rates have fallen for boys and girls, but it is worse for boys, which means that women are starting to narrow the gap in enrollment, although there are almost two against one in higher mathematics.
“If you look at secondary mathematics, the ratio of men to women is now almost 50/50, and in higher mathematics, the ratio has also improved somewhat,” said Tim Marchant, director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. “But there is still a big problem with the overall decline in participation rates, and if you look at the data, participation rates for men are lower than for women, so that’s not positive news.”
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