Girl maths whizz defies study trend

FIGURES released on International Women’s Day, show that only half as many girls are studying advanced maths in Year 12 as boys but not in Auburn where Sharlyn Tan, 14, is already solving Year 12-level equations.

In 2017, the latest available figures, showed only 6.9 per cent of girls took advanced maths for their final-year exam. That compares with 12.2 per cent of boys. The figure for girls is down from 7 per cent in 2016, compared with 7.3 per cent of girls a decade ago.
“A decade ago 7.3 per cent was far too low for Australia’s future. But the fact that it has declined even more is worrying,” said the director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, Professor Tim Brown.
Bucking the trend, Sharlyn, who aspires to enter the medical profession, developed her maths ability with the support of Kumon Auburn Education Centre since she was in Year 1.
“Kumon lets you go above your school year level in maths and to challenge yourself,” Sharlyn says.
Kumon is a personalised learning program that supports students in their maths and English.
In Kumon, advanced students, like Sharlyn, can tackle content that sufficiently challenges their skills, while those who may be falling behind are given the time they need to practise and revise so they can fill the gaps in their learning.
Sharlyn says her strong maths knowledge will have real-world applications in medicine.
“Medicine is a very broad field that involves giving patients the correct dosages of medication and precisely mapping surgeries,” she says.
Her mother, Vivian, says being ahead in maths helped grow her daughter’s confidence.
“She really likes a challenge with her work,” Vivian explained.