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Details of talk

TitleFrom school to career: A snapshot of supports and obstacles
PresenterGilah Leder (Monash University)
Author(s)Gilah Leder, Helen Forgasz and Simone Zmood
SessionGender Equity and Diversity in Mathematics
Time11:30:00 2017-09-25

Drawing on data from a larger study on schooling, careers, and STEM, we focus on
students who attended a co-educational school in Australia. To achieve a
national sample efficiently and within a limited budget, we relied primarily on
Facebook for recruitment. Financial and time constraints dictated the length of
the data gathering period. 
The sample of interest for this presentation comprised 164 females and 58
males, aged 18 years and over. The majority of those who completed their
schooling in 2009 or earlier were in paid employment when they completed the
survey: 86% of the males and 83% of the females. As anticipated from the content
of the Facebook “advertisement”, many participants indicated that they had
completed an advanced or intermediate mathematics course: 43.7% and 43.2%
respectively had done so. Other subjects with a substantial participation rate
by this group were chemistry (48.6%), physics (39.6%), and biology (34.7%).
These participation rates are high compared, for example, to the participation
rates in comparable VCE [Victoria Certificate of Education] STEM subjects. In
our sample – as in state and national cohorts – more males than females
completed intermediate mathematics, physics, and chemistry; proportionately more
females than males completed biology and elementary mathematics. However, the
gender difference in participation in advanced mathematics consistently reported
in state and national data was not replicated in our sample: the proportion of
males (44.8%) and females (43.3%) enrolled in advanced mathematics was very
In the remainder of the session we present quantitative and qualitative data on
the factors which influenced the males and females in their choice of initial
careers, on the factors cited as supports or barriers for their chosen career
path(s), and on elements which determined a change in career. We focus on
personal and environmental issues, and examine whether perceptions of barriers
have changed over time. Differences in the factors nominated by these
STEM-oriented females and males as career path obstacles are identified and