Maths considered most difficult third-level STEM subject
Image: l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

Maths considered most difficult third-level STEM subject

8 Nov 2016

College & Beyond, run by the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) and Hays Recruitment, surveyed participating schools prior to the event to find out about their perceptions of the STEM sector.

While we all know there are still not enough women in the STEM sector, efforts are constantly being made to change this. Areas such as engineering and computer science are particularly in need of more women in the field.

The College & Beyond event was set up by the PWN and Hays to enlighten secondary school female students about careers in the STEM industry.

Ahead of the event, a survey was sent to participating schools and shared over social media. Over 400 people took part in the survey. Just under 47pc were second-level students, 27pc were teachers, 22pc were in the workforce, 4pc were parents and less than 1pc were third-level students.

Of those surveyed, almost 75pc believe coding should be on the Leaving Certificate. However, almost half think that maths is the most difficult subject to learn at third level, compared to between 15pc and 19pc believing any other subject to be the most difficult.

Maths subject infographic

Survey results. Image: Colby Parrott/SurveyMonkey

The survey also produced some interesting results about what female students and teachers think about the STEM industry.

Of the 422 survey participants, almost 90pc answered a question about which sector they believe is still dominated by males. Engineering was overwhelmingly considered to be the biggest culprit, with 76pc of respondents naming it as ‘a man’s world’.

Computers and technology was the next area considered in this field, though it still trailed far behind engineering at less than 17pc.

Interestingly, despite being considered the most difficult STEM subject to study, maths was not considered ‘a man’s world’.

A man's world infographic

Survey results. Image: Colby Parrott/SurveyMonkey

56pc of those who responded feel that students choose their third-level courses based on their own interests and passion.

However, the survey also found that most people believed students did not receive sufficient information about careers in STEM when considering their Leaving Certificate subjects or their CAO choices.

College & Beyond was aimed at fourth, fifth and sixth-year female students with speakers from Deloitte, Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Deutsche Bank to inform them on the four pillars of STEM and encourage young women to pursue a career in the STEM sector.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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