This is a study that will embarrass the ministry in its obstinacy to maintain the reform of the high school. “Since the reform, regardless of the scientific path followed, the number of girls has been greatly reduced and the proportion of girls has been drastically reduced 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 scientists (Femmes et maths, engineers, etc.) is ringing the alarm. Secondary school reform has more than canceled efforts to rebalance the proportion of girls in secondary school science subjects. It leads to a real step backwards. A profoundly reactionary reform.
Fall in the proportion of girls in science education
The math and science collective is based on statistics for the number of students in Terminale S before 2020 and science major doublets (math, NSI, physics, chemistry, SVT, engineering science) after 2019.
His verdict is final. While the number of students pursuing a science education is declining compared to 2019, the proportion of girls is literally collapsing. While the number of final year students will be reduced by 3% between 2019 and 2021, the number of scientific staff will be reduced by 20% for boys and 28% for girls. We went from 105,000 boys to 84,000 and from 94,000 girls to 68,000.
The gender gap is already marked. But it becomes dizzying if you combine it with the teaching of mathematics: the number of boys decreases by 37%, that of girls by 61%! If we look at the number of young science graduates who follow 6 hours of mathematics or more, there are 105,000 boys in 2019, before the reform, and only 66,000 in 2021. For girls, we went from 94,000 to 36,000.
If we increase the proportion of math to 8 hours and more per week, there are 31,000 boys in both 2019 and 2021. But girls go from 18,000 to 13,000 only. Thus, for the group, the participation 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 secondary school had allowed the rate of girls in science training in secondary school to increase from 40.2 to 47.5% between 1994 and 2019,” writes the collective. “These effects still fall far short of what is needed to achieve a desirable balance between women and men in higher education and scientific careers.” With the reform of the baccalaureate we return to the rhythms of the 90s.
Girls who follow 6 hours of mathematics represented 47% of students in 2015. They are only 43% in 2021. Those who follow at least 8 hours of mathematics represented 39% of students in 2015. They currently represent 29% .
The math and science collective provides explanations for this spectacular decline. He believes that by bringing the elections forward to the end of the second we have increased the weight of stereotypes in the students’ choices. Once the choice is made, the absence of math in the common core makes it impossible to change your mind. On the other hand, the obligation to abandon one of the three specialties at the end of the first is detrimental to mathematics for girls, who are more attracted to biology and health.
Therefore, the collective calls for a rebalancing between the 3 options as was the case in S and a rebalancing between the common core and the specialties.
In the end, it is the entire balance of the reform that is in question. Already socially segregated, even more so than the old S-series, the new scientific pathway resulting from the baccalaureate reform is also more gender-segregated. We measure the profoundly reactionary character of this reform imposed by JM Blanquer but which P Ndiaye seems to want to perpetuate.