Inspiring girls to study maths

February 10, 2017

A group of girls in Years 9-11 from Christ’s Hospital visited the University of Oxford where the Mathematical Institute and Department of Statistics hosted ‘It All Adds up’ to inspire girls to continue to study Maths, as well as  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at a higher level.

Whilst the numbers of girls participating in Mathematics and Further Mathematics in the UK has grown substantially in recent years, the proportion of A level Mathematics students that are girls is 39% and for A level Further Mathematics the figure is 28%.

Universities and employers are keen to recruit even more female students into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and also to a wide range of other degree courses and careers requiring quantitative skills, such as Psychology, Social Sciences, Economics and Geography.

One of the pupils, Lottie Field, 15, who attended the conference, wrote an account of her day in Oxford and how it has strengthened her ambitions to continue Maths into A level. She hopes her experience will encourage other girls to look at Maths and STEM subjects when choosing their sixth form course.

“We travelled to the University of Oxford because it gave us the opportunity not only to experience the atmosphere and environment at one of the top and most renowned universities in the world, but to meet women successfully working with Maths and on STEM subjects.

“Throughout the day there were five sessions, the first about prime numbers, their applications and how to find them. This was followed with a discussion on how mathematical models are used to predict the spread of diseases, then a puzzle solving session, then one about modular arithmetic and finally a talk about Women in STEM. M

“y favourite was the second about predicting the spread of diseases, because I could clearly see its direct application and significance in helping solve some of the worlds’ major problems. Dr Cotton-Barratt (Admissions Co-ordinator to Maths at Oxford) explained how the reproductive ratio (on average how many people you infect when you have a disease) affects the spread of a disease. I also thoroughly enjoyed the modular arithmetic session. It was excellently explained and we started to look into patterns in modular arithmetic multiplication tables which was very interesting and we continued this investigation back at CH during Maths Club.

“The day was a wonderful experience and helped me to gain a further understanding of the research work being undertaken. Just walking around the building looking at how mathematical patterns had been incorporated into the design and the intriguing displays was fascinating. The facilities of the Maths Department at Oxford and the passion of the speakers have in particular motivated me find out more about the options available at the University.

“I’m even more convinced about continuing with Maths post-GCSE. When it comes to other STEM related subjects, I definitely know more about them and in particular their relationship to Maths. I’m so grateful to have been able to take part and despite the freezing start to the day and the traffic on the journey, every minute was worth it.”

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