Science education in Australian schools feminised to attract more female students

silverharp

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Well known physicist in Australia highlights that the feminisation (aka dumbed down) of science in order to appeal to girls is lowering standards. I think the same has happened here right? that physics had a lot of "maths" taken out of it though I am open to correction?
On the plus side they seem to be in the process of undoing the damage done and resetting the syllabus back to the older format. the ironic thing is that women that are capable of competing with men would have suffered under the current system and lost out to more average students.

is the penny finally dropping?

the link will bring you to a paywall, if you want to read the article google it and click through from there

Nocookies | The Australian


‘Feminised’ physics a formula for failure, says Michelle Simmons


One of the nation’s leading scientists has attacked attempts to “feminise’’ the high school physics curriculum by replacing maths formulas with essays as a “disaster’’ which has left students unprepared for university.

Renowned quantum physicist Michelle Simmons used an Australia Day address in Sydney yesterday to warn against the dumbing down of high school ­science and urged authorities to “set the bar high’’ for students to encourage them to excel.

Professor Simmons’s criticism of the science curriculum has been supported by teaching experts who told The Australian yesterday that university physics courses were being altered to compensate for students leaving high school with limited maths skills.

And the NSW Education Standards Authority will introduce a new science curriculum to take ­effect from next year, which will reintroduce a focus on maths and reverse the introduction of ­sociology and history into the discipline.

“One of the few things that horrified me when I arrived in Australia (in 1999) was to discover that, several years ago the high school physics curriculum was “feminised”, Professor Simmons told a high-profile audience at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music.

“In other words, to make it more appealing to girls, our curriculum’s designers substituted formulae with essays! What a ­disaster,’’ she said.

This is a transcript of her talk at an Australia day event, impressive lady

https://www.australiaday.com.au/events/australia-day-address/2017-speaker-professor-michelle-y-simmons/
 


Fritzbox

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Ireland has had a 'feminised' education system for the sciences for years (or it was when I was going to school) - why do you think that the number students sitting the LC biology exam is double that for the combined total of those taking physics and chemistry?

30,349 – The number of people who took Biology at any level – that’s the highest of any subject outside of the ‘core’ three. Geography came next, with 27,305 candidates. Of the other traditional sciences, 7,677 took Chemistry and 6,516 took Physics. 472 took the join ‘Physics & Chemistry’ course.
In numbers: how Ireland’s students fared in Leaving Cert 2011

also: Numbers taking Leaving Cert higher maths climbs to new high
 

Sister Mercedes

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Biology is a science subject for people who don't like science/maths but feel they need to have at least one science subject.
 

PeacefulViking

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Well known physicist in Australia highlights that the feminisation (aka dumbed down) of science in order to appeal to girls is lowering standards. I think the same has happened here right? that physics had a lot of "maths" taken out of it though I am open to correction?
On the plus side they seem to be in the process of undoing the damage done and resetting the syllabus back to the older format. the ironic thing is that women that are capable of competing with men would have suffered under the current system and lost out to more average students.

is the penny finally dropping?

the link will bring you to a paywall, if you want to read the article google it and click through from there

Nocookies | The Australian





This is a transcript of her talk at an Australia day event, impressive lady

https://www.australiaday.com.au/events/australia-day-address/2017-speaker-professor-michelle-y-simmons/
It is longish speech, of which the so-called "feminization" is only a small part. It is right that attempts to interest girls in science should not come at the expense of changing the core parts of the curriculum. Trying to present more varied types of examples is fine, not changing the basic ideas.
 

stopdoingstuff

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If feminism corrupts the sciences then it is all over, and the Asians will rightfully assume global primacy.
 

gleeful

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I dont know what feminism has to do with reducing maths requirements. Reduction in entry requirements is driven by the financial needs of fee-paying universities. They need more bums on seats and dont care about quality of output.
 

Deadlock

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Biology is a science subject for people who don't like science/maths but feel they need to have at least one science subject.
This is not true.

Biology and mathematics and increasingly informatics overlap enormously. A contemporary biologist must be fully mathematically proficient. Scale wise - biology today is generating similar levels of data as astronomy, with similar emphasis on data management, validation and curation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_and_theoretical_biology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_biology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_biology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biostatistics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_biology
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/omics#English
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_genomics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioinformatics
 

Felixness

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If female students aren't as intelligent as male students why are female students outperforming their male classmates year after year in Ireland and in other countries?
 

Prester Jim

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Biology is a science subject for people who don't like science/maths but feel they need to have at least one science subject.
AT leaving cert level you are correct, all that changes in college though. Not as maths based as physics but still plenty of maths in bio, particularly advanced stats.
 

Deadlock

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I think a factor frequently absent from discussions about science in particular and education in general concerns aptitude. Some students have certain aptitudes, others lack these aptitudes, when it comes to areas of studies.

When I was in school (70s-80s) students who lacked aptitudes and comprehension were 'fools'. They were ignored as long as they didn't interrupt, or were mildly tolerated when at least amusing when they did so.

Full 180 degrees in todays world. In keeping with political culture, no-one makes tough decisions, and everyone is invited to waffle and the uninformed waffle is as valid as informed waffle and everyone who shows up is a winner and goes home with a prize.

I reject the terms feminisation and masculinisation. The preferred approach lies somewhere between the extrema I described - where individuals with the demonstrated aptitudes have the tools necessary and legitimate to progress their studies.

Those who lack such aptitudes specialise otherwise, and that is recommended to them. It is best explained simply - your strengths lie elsewhere, and you should not persue this field of study.

That was my understanding of function the then Intermediate (now Junior) Cert. You found out where those strengths and weaknesses were in relation to your own situation, and focussed on the strengths for your Leaving.

In relation to science, a scientists first duty is to the truth. The truth can be described mathematically. It can be described by illustrations. It can be described in clear concise prose. All three forms of communication form a valid whole, and that combinations of all three are necessary to effectively communicate science. To focus on one is insufficient, and miscommunicates science.
 
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Deadlock

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female students outperforming their male classmates year after year in Ireland and in other countries?
In the 1980s, the reverse was the case.

The curriculum needs rebalancing.
 
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silverharp

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If female students aren't as intelligent as male students why are female students outperforming their male classmates year after year in Ireland and in other countries?
it depends what you are measuring? some subjects require a higher IQ to do well in them.

 

Roberto Jordan

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That must produce a lot of disappointed students. Cos there's plenty of hard science and maths in biology.
Not at 2nd level and even at third level it will depend on the major......

But you are right the study / research of biology quickly becomes chemistry and/or mathematical once you get down to brass tacks. ( though a friend of mine who abhorred chemistry was apparently encouraged by a career guidance teacher to continue to pursue a spot in medicine on the basis that chemistry was not a re-requisite to be a medic..........)

However the phenomenon pointed out here relates more to the absence of concepts like a molar solution, reaction types, vectors etc. from drawing the anatomy of an earthworm and finding the duodenum on a simple diagram at LC level.

unfortunately vested interests who are only looking for intake numbers ( colleges for funding), placement numbers in uni( schools for ranking/ reputation) or graduating stats ( government for selling Irelands edu-mic-ated workforce) will never come out and say that students have little hope of being a professional scientist or engineer operating in research and/or in an applied setting where you have a level of autonomy that extends beyond following an SOP if they have do not have an aptitude for chemistry along with a good competency in mathematics ( a good A/B at higher level in old money...).....
 
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Betson

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If female students aren't as intelligent as male students why are female students outperforming their male classmates year after year in Ireland and in other countries?
Who said they weren't , but girls do a lot better in the rote learning subjects.

It is interesting that Girls do better in a lot more subjects and boys do better in a specific few , but it is always those few subjects that boys do well in that they want to change and tinker so as to make them easier or more appealing to Girls.

It is like the way the press reports the leaving results every years and commentary is usually along the lines of it been a a good news story when girls are doing better and bad news if it an area where boys are doing better.

Remember Mary Hanafin a few years ago when she was minister of education and she made a comment along the lines of the results mostly been very good with girls outperforming boys in every subject except maths and she added we will look into what is going on in maths and look for measures to try and redress the balance there. And Not a word about looking into any of the subjects that male students were underperforming in.
 

toughbutfair

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Women tend not to be curious about the world and are more interested in gossip. This isn't a criticism, the gender balance has helped us Homo sapiens survive and prosper. Reducing the maths in science will cost humanity in the long run. Practically all the great scientists were men , even today the founders of Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc all have a common gender. Where is the female zuckerberg?
 


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