Will there be no more girls in high school science classes soon? The Maths & Sciences collective, which brings together numerous associations of secondary and higher education teachers and associations forfor the place of womenIn the scientific professions, it is sounding the alarm about this possibility.
In a study published on Tuesday, the collective warns of an “unprecedented decrease in the share of girls in all science courses” since the general high school reform in 2019.
A 61% drop in girls taking more than six hours of math
Maths & Sciences deplores a 28% decline in female science students in the final year between 2019 and 2021, while the percentage of girls (56% of final year students) remained stable. In addition, between 2019 and 2021, there was also a 61% drop in the number of girls with science profiles after six hours or more of math in the terminal. There were more than 94,000 in 2019, compared to 36,400 in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, the percentage of girls doing more than 8 hours of math a week in their senior year has also decreased. These were students in the mathematics specialty course S before 2019. After the reform, this corresponds to those who took the mathematics specialty and the “expert math” option. In this category, the number of girls decreased by 29% between 2019 and 2021.
Long-term, the group notes that in 1994 the rate of girls in high school science was 40.2%. Twenty-five years later, in 2019, the fight against gender inequalities allowed this percentage to increase to 47.5% of girls in science. But in just two years, some of these efforts seem to have been wiped out: in 2021 we count 44.7% of girls among students with scientific profile in high school. Mathematics is particularly interested:
If we consider the paths integrating mathematics training of over 6 hours per week : in the terminal in 1994 there were 40.2% of girls. In 2021, there are 35.7% with a similar profile.
Collective exhibition of mathematics and science
Gender stereotypes, restricted choices and optional math
A situation that is all the more surprising since girls do on average “better than boys” at all levels of study and practically in all training, from school primaryto High school And in higher education, ”emphasizes Maths & Sciences.
However, several factors come into play in this decrease in the share of girls in science courses, starting with gender stereotypes, which tend to direct girls towards careers that are more literary than scientific.
Furthermore, “thea better success of the girls in second place theyour offer a Moreover wide range of choices for specialties, carriedHealth statistically move away from scientific specialtiess, ”observes the collective. ” Rather, these will be recommended to young people, due to their poor performance in the command of the language “, also reads the press release”.
The collective of teachers and associations also believes that there is an obligation to leave the third party spechigh school seniority ” leads to that of the math specialty for profiles, mainly feminine, attracted to biology and health “.
It should be noted that, if it decreases less than that of girls, the share of boys in science also tends to decrease.
Mathematics, a true-false return to the common core
However, the government appears to have taken the measure of the decline in the number of students opting for mathematics. Although this topic was removed from the common core in 2019, former Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer announced his return last May by integrating him into science education.
But finally, in this early 2022 school year, only first-year students who have not chosen mathematics as their specialty can take this course. However, it remains optional. No announcement has yet been made regarding their reintegration – or not – into the common core starting from 2023.