Maths is for everyone
Rachel said: “At school, I was really lucky, no one ever put the idea into my head that girls weren’t as good as boys at maths... We need to change a lot of the messaging, change a lot of the PR, the advertising around maths. We need to just say there is no such thing as a maths brain!
She added: “We just need to change the way we pitch it and hopefully more people will have an experience like me, where it’s not even an issue or a consideration that girls wouldn’t be as good as boys.”
Parents can hand down their own maths anxiety to children, she told Bobby Seagull and Susan Okerere on the podcast, and often girls are told they are better at words or creative tasks. Rachel reckons it’s time to switch up the way we talk and think about maths.
The low confidence barrier
Rachel’s comments come after a YouGov poll found that millions of women in the UK feel nervous about numbers.
- A study of more than 2,000 adults found women are twice as anxious as men about using maths and numbers.
- A quarter of women (24 per cent) said maths and numbers made them nervous, compared to 12 per cent of men.
- Meanwhile, one in four people would be deterred from applying for a job if it listed numbers and data as a requirement
Sam Sims, chief executive of National Numeracy, said: “Everyone can improve their numeracy, regardless of gender. But low number confidence is a barrier to using number skills, and we see that more in women and girls.
“A bit of number know-how can help a lot in everyday situations, like managing your money or applying for a job. At this challenging time, with the cost-of-living crisis, people lacking in number confidence are losing out on the benefits that good numeracy can bring. We urgently need to change that!”