memories ....

Sexual discrimination in the classroom?

Janice Nelson told me an interesting story about the disproportion of males to females in the advanced maths class. At the beginning of Second Form girls required 85% in the first form maths exam to qualify for the top class. She says that boys only needed 65%. She scored 83% but missed out. (Her school certificate results were straight As except maths where she got a credit.)

Could this be true?

If you look at the class photos you will see a radical change in the proportions of boys and girls in the top class each year.

In 1A there are 19 girls/ 18 boys in a class of 37. Proportion of boys in the class was 48.6%.
2A - 11 girls/ 27 boys. Boys 71.1%.
3M1 – 12 girls/ 28 boys. Boys 70%.
4M1 – 11 girls/ 28 boys. Boys 71.8%.
Yet in 5E1 it reverts to a female majority – 21 girls/ 11 boys. Boys 34.4%.
6E1 – 15 girls/ 10 boys. Boys 40%.

I’ve discussed this with a number of people. No one can corroborate this memory but all are puzzled by the numbers.

Can Mr March or anyone else shed any light on this?

Brett Yeats

Janice's comment: I remember Mr and Mrs Martin standing in front of the class, doing a tag team act, explaining that 'girl's don't need maths, except to do the shopping'. We were all pretty shocked at the time, but must have accepted this as the truth. Even telling the parents didn't elicit any action. There were several girls who got 83-84% in the fateful exam, and we were all stuck in 2M2, along with the boys who scored below 65%. Maths was the class that was designated as the class for the school photo, school reports too, so even though we could be in the top grade for every other class - science, English, history, geography, languages, we'd moved down a notch in life! We rapidly lost interest in maths, needless to say, and for some of us, other subjects followed suit.

On the plus side, girls didn't suffer corporal punishment - the dreaded 'cane' !

Richard Swan's comment:

It would not surprise me if there was a bias towards boys. In 6th form my class had one girl, who then dropped out leaving about 5 boys.

My sister Barbara (now Spencer) who was 6 years ahead of us was told by the math teacher (McGann, deputy head) that she would never have a job in math. She is now a quite internationally famous economist and mathematician. (

As a sign of the times, in the 1960s, women in the public service were by statute paid a fixed amount less than males in precisely the same jobs. Women who married were not permitted to keep permanent jobs in the public service. I think the mothers of some of our classmates hid that they were married from the government.

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