Gender equity in mathematics education : the Namibian situation

Olivier, Patricia Joan (2000-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Gender inequity in mathematics performance is a global phenomenon. In both the developed and the developing world, females perform more poorly in mathematics than males at senior secondary school level. In Namibia, the situation is no exception. Examination results for the past few years have shown that males outperform females in mathematics at senior secondary school level. This has resulted in more males taking mathematics as a major subject at tertiary level, with the consequence that they subsequently find better jobs than females. For the purpose of this study, a literature research was done to investigate the factors that might influence the mathematics performance of females and males. The search did not show any significant biological differences between males and females that could explain the differences in performance. Several other factors were, however, identified to playa role in how females perform in mathematics. The factors identified were: interest in mathematics, a person's self-concept, mathematics anxiety, attitude towards mathematics, gender stereotyping, and the roles of the family and teachers. These factors were tested in the Namibian situation by means of a questionnaire that was given to Grade 12 students who do mathematics and it was found that: 1. males and females' attitudes towards mathematics differ significantly. Males seem to have a much more positive attitude towards mathematics; 2. Females experience mathematics anxiety at a higher level than males; 3. Gender stereotyping influences the mathematics performance of females more negatively than males' performance; Family members' influence contributes significantly to the poorer performance of females; 5. Interest in mathematics seems to be higher in males than in females; 6. Teacher influence does not seem to play a significant role in the mathematics performance of males and females. (This is in contrast with the results of the literature review.); and 7. There is no difference in the self-concept of Namibian males and females. To help make mathematics more appealing to girls, the first step is to recognise the disparities. Each person in a girl's circle of family, teachers, community and friends can begin, even before she reaches primary school, to hold high expectations of her and praise her performance. Sophisticated technology is increasingly significant to our nation's economic, political and social health. Almost every element of society - in fields as diverse as music, sports and agriculture - is being touched by technology. To prepare them for.these jobs, we must present science, engineering and mathematics as non-intimidating subjects to every student, so that they will feel encouraged to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for technical careers. As we increasingly become part of the global economy, we must engage the intellectual potential of all our young people.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geslagsongelykheid in wiskunde prestasies is a globale verskynsel. Daar is bevind dat meisies swakker doen as seuns in wiskunde in die senior sekondere skoolfase in beide die ontwikkelende sowel as die ontwikkelde lande. Namibia is geen uitsondering nie. Eksamenuitslae van die afgelope paar jare het gewys dat seuns baie beter vaar as meisies in wiskunde, spesifiek in die senior sekondere skoolfase. Dit het tot gevolg gehad dat meer seuns wiskunde neem as hoofvak na skool en dat hulle gevolglik beter werksgeleenthede as meisies kry. Vir die doel van hierdie studie is 'n Literatuurstudie gedoen om uit te vind watter faktore beinvloed die wiskunde prestasies van studente. Die literatuurstudie het geen noemenswaardige biologiese verskille tussen seuns en meisies uitgewys wat moontlik die verskil in prestasies kan verklaar nie. Verskeie ander faktore is egter geidentifiseer wat beslis 'n rol speel in wiskunde prestasies van meisies. Die faktore wat geidentifiseer was, is: belangstelling in wiskunde, 'n persoon se selfbeeld, wiskunde angs, 'n persoon se houding teenoor wiskunde, geslags stereotipes, die rol van die familie en onderwysers. Bogenoemde faktore is getoets in die Namibiese situasie by wyse van 'n vraelys wat uitgegee is vir graad 12 leerlinge wat wiskunde doen. Die resultate wat verkry is, is as volg: 1. Daar is 'n groot verskil tussen seuns en meisies se houding teenoor wiskunde. Dit wil voorkom as seuns se houding meer positief is as die van meisies; 2. Meisies ondervind wiskunde angs in 'n groter mate as seuns; 3. Geslagstereotipes het 'n negatiewe invloed op die wiskunde prestasies van meisies; 4. Familielede se invloed speel 'n groot rol in die swakker prestasies van meisies; 5. Seuns stel meer belang in wiskunde as meisies; 6. Dit blyk asof die invloed van onderwysers nie 'n noemenswaardige rol speel in die wiskunde prestasies van studente nie; Dit is teenstrydig met die bevindinge in die literatuurstudie. 7. Daar is geen verskil in die selfbeeld van meisies en seuns nie. Die eerste stap om wiskunde meer aantreklik vir meisies te maak, is om die dispariteit tussen seuns en meisies te erken. Elke persoon wat op enige manier met meisies in aanraking kom, hetsy familie, onderwysers, gemeenskap of vriende kan, selfs voorskool al, begin om hoë verwagtinge van hulle te koester en hulle te prys vir goeie prestasies. Gesofistikeerde tegnologie raak al hoe meer belangrik vir ons nasie se ekonomiese, politiese en sosiale welslae. Bykans elke sektor in ons gemeenskap, so divers soos musiek, sport en landbou, word geraak deur tegnologie. Die wetenskappe, ingenieurswese en wiskunde moet dus, sonder intimidasie, aan elke student aangebied word, om hulle sodoende aan te moedig om die nodige vaardighede te ontwikkel vir tegnies beroepe. Ons moet al ons jongmense se intellektuele potensiaal ten volle benut om in lyn te kom met die wereld ekonomie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51772
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