For girls, a 20-year throwback

This is a study that will put the ministry in difficulty in its obstinacy to maintain the high school reform. “Since the reform, regardless of the scientific path followed, the number of girls has decreased massively and the share of girls has drastically decreased in favor of boys”. The Mathematics and Science Collective, which brings together more than twenty associations of secondary school teachers (Apmep, Udppc), higher education teachers (Cfem, Smf, etc.) and scientific associations (Femmes et math, women engineers etc.) is playing the alarm. The high school reform has more than undermined efforts to rebalance the share of girls in high school science subjects. It leads to a real step back. A profoundly reactionary reform.

The share of girls in science education has fallen

The math and science collective is based on statistics of the number of students at terminal S before 2020 and on doublets of the scientific specialties (mathematics, NSI, chemical physics, SVT, engineering sciences) after 2019.

His verdict is final. While the number of students pursuing science education is decreasing compared to 2019, the share of girls is literally plummeting. While the number of final year students will decline by 3% between 2019 and 2021, the number of scientific staff will decrease by 20% for boys and 28% for girls. It goes from 105,000 males to 84,000 and from 94,000 females to 68,000.

The gender gap is already stark. But it becomes dizzying if you combine it with mathematics teaching: the number of males decreases by 37%, that of females by 61%! If we look at the number of young scientific terminals after 6 or more hours of mathematics, in 2019 there are 105,000 boys, before the reform, and only 66,000 in 2021. For girls, it goes from 94,000 to 36,000.

If we increase the proportion of math to 8 hours or more per week, there are 31,000 boys in both 2019 and 2021. But girls only go from 18,000 to 13,000. Thus, for the collective, the share of girls falls in all scientific courses with the reform of the baccalaureate.

Go back 20 years

“A long fight against inequalities between girls and boys in high school had allowed the rate of girls in high school scientific training to increase from 40.2 to 47.5% between 1994 and 2019,” the collective writes. “These effects are still far below the needs necessary to achieve a desirable balance between women and men in higher education and scientific careers.” With the reform of the high school we return to the rates of the 90s.

Girls following 6 hours of mathematics represented 47% of pupils in 2015. They are only 43% in 2021. Those following at least 8 hours of mathematics represented 39% of pupils in 2015. Currently they represent 29%.

The math and science collective provides explanations for this spectacular decline. He believes that by anticipating the choices at the end of the second we have increased the weight of stereotypes in the choices of the students. Once the choice is made, the absence of mathematics in the common core makes it impossible to change one’s mind. On the other hand, the obligation to abandon one of the three specialties at the end of the first is to the detriment of mathematics for girls, who are more attracted to biology and health.

The collective therefore asks for a rebalancing between the 3 options as happened in S and a rebalancing between common core and specialty.

Ultimately, it is the whole balance of the reform that is called into question. Already socially segregated, even more so than the previous S series, the new scientific path resulting from the high school reform is more segregated by gender. We measure the deeply reactionary nature of this reform imposed by JM Blanquer but which P Ndiaye seems to want to perpetuate.

Francois Jarraud

I study

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