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Journal Article

Mathematical Stories: Why Do More Boys than Girls Choose to Study Mathematics at AS-Level in England?

Heather Mendick
British Journal of Sociology of Education
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Apr., 2005), pp. 235-251
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30036060
Page Count: 17
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Mathematical Stories: Why Do More Boys than Girls Choose to Study Mathematics at AS-Level in England?
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Abstract

In this paper I address the question: How is it that people come to choose mathematics and in what ways is this process gendered? I draw on the findings of a qualitative research study involving interviews with 43 young people all studying mathematics in post-compulsory education in England. Working within a post-structuralist framework, I argue that gender is a project and one that is achieved in interaction with others. Through a detailed reading of Toni and Claudia's stories I explore the tensions for young women who are engaging in mathematics, something that is discursively inscribed as masculine, while (understandably) being invested in producing themselves as female. I conclude by arguing that seeing 'doing mathematics' as 'doing masculinity' is a productive way of understanding why mathematics is so male dominated and by looking at the implications of this understanding for gender and mathematics reform work.

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