Our Girls Bucking the Trend in STEM

There has been a lot of discussion about the lower participation rates of female students electing to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, in the senior years, compared to male students.

Our cohort of Year 11 and 12 VCE girls from Fitzroy High School and Collingwood College are bucking the trend. Although our rates of female participation in STEM subjects vary across subjects, and are lower compared to male students, we compare significantly better than other co-educational schools, and in Specialist Maths, better than all other schools, including female single-sex schools. This comparison includes all schools in Victoria, including government, Catholic and independent schools.

Attached is a graph comparing our VCE Yr 11 and 12 female student participation in Chemistry, Mathematical Methods, Specialist Mathematics and Physics to other Victorian co-educational and female single-sex schools.

If we separate out our Year 11 and 12 VCE female students, the story is even more impressive for the 11s, with 31%doing Chemistry, a whopping 37% doing Mathematical Methods16% doing Specialist Mathematics and 8% doing Physics.

An article on the subject appeared in The Age on 1/3/2108. The article focused on the findings of a research project undertaken by Monash University, commissioned by the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia. The Alliance is made up of independent, Catholic and state girls schools. The research can be found at https://www.agsa.org.au/why-a-girls-school-the-research/ .

Our female student participation in STEM subjects flies in the face of many of the findings in this report. Our Senior Pathways Process at Year 10 supports informed decision-making, where students are choosing their senior program in the context of their interests, strengths, and future aspirations. We believe this is one of the many reasons why so many of our girls are electing to pursue STEM subjects.

Thank you to Peter Bennet, Data Manager for crunching the numbers.

Sandra Dickins
Acting Assistant Principal