Abstract
 Gender and mathematics have a controversial history, which has included the idea
that because of biology women are less capable in mathematics. Targeted
interventions in Australia towards the end of the 20th century aimed to address
these misconceptions and successfully increased the number of women in STEM;
however, current research suggests the number of women choosing mathematics
subjects and courses is decreasing.
This presentation will present data on gender differences in achievement,
participation and engagement in mathematics in Australia and internationally. It
will also use research from psychology, education and neuroscience to illustrate
that these gender differences are not a function of women’s lower capability in
mathematics. Instead, there a variety of contributing factors, including a lack
of opportunity. This presentation will focus on factors that act as barriers to
girls’ mathematical learning; in other words, the factors involved when girls
have the opportunity but choose to avoid mathematics. A particular emphasis will
be placed on mathematics anxiety, which is a significant problem for mathematics
students and teachers. Discussion will include a review of a program of
intervention research that is addressing mathematics anxiety using a
psychological approach.
