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PREMA - Reflecting & acting on the Maths Gender Gap

Girls have equal abilities to boys, they often even get better grades. True as this may be, gender differences in the area of maths education still exist. Promoting Equality in Math Achievements (PREMA) aims at understanding the socio-cultural and pedagogic factors responsible for this gap, which in turn effect women’s under-representation in professions that relay on maths.

Some examples of concrete teaching guidelines that emerged from the work undertaken of PREMA in several national contexts. For the full list, please visit: http://prema.iacm.forth.gr/deliverables.php
In the Austrian context they include:

  • As a basic requirement: Make sure that your explanations are clear and that you have good subject knowledge.
  • Give equal attention to girls and boys - ask boys and girls questions which are equally demanding.
  • Avoid “teaching” stereotypes by working with stereotyped images in textbooks and teaching materials, and eliminate sexism in your use of language.

In the Greek context:

  • Girls learn mathematics in a different way than boys. Girls study more but learn "what they have to learn", question less and need more attention from the teacher.
  • When girls do not understand something in maths they give up more easily than boys. They are more hesitant and try to resolve the problem between themselves rather than asking the teacher.
  • Different motivation is required on the teacher’s part for the two genders – the teacher has to try to convince girls that they can do better, praise their efforts, and explain that if they study more they will succeed. It's also important to enhance girls’ self-esteem: in most cases, girls are shyer than boys.

In the UK context, they suggest:

  • Stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in general: the critical issue to be addressed in the UK is the lack of engagement with STEM, not gender issues per se. Too few pupils engage with STEM.
  • Reform the curriculum to make mathematics more interesting, more relevant, and more pervasive: pupils’ choices concerning post-compulsory education are strongly influenced by their interest and enjoyment.
  • Include more interesting contexts in mathematics. Pointers to appropriate contexts can be gleaned by looking at those subjects whose popularity is rising dramatically, such as psychology.

The scope of the first phase of the project - PREMA 1 - was the identification of discrepancies between “needs and provisions” in mathematics education and teaching. PREMA2 is about initiating an intervention to alleviate the gender gap in maths education.

This is to be achieved by the articulation of a teacher training curriculum framework on gender and mathematics that will include a set of reflective tools to assist teachers to be aware, ask questions and reflect on gender issues.

We invite you to join the PREMA 2 Network (http://prema2.iacm.forth.gr).  Through virtual meetings, brainstorming and discussions forums, a preliminary version of the tools kit developed by PREMA will be presented for analysis, criticism and discussion, in PREMA 2 Network.  It is through this knowledge sharing process with teachers, trainers and researchers from across Europe that we will be able to develop a powerful set of tools.

The Network activities will be followed by National workshops in several Europeans cities to test the tools to be developed.

For further information:

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