More teens are dropping math. Here are 3 reasons to stick with it
Parenting / 6 August 2019, 10:00am / Rachel Wilson and Deborah Chadwick
Studying maths brings many benefits. Here are three reasons to persevere.
1. You’ll be more likely to get a job
Many industry and economic experts predict future economies – specifically those using technology to rapidly create goods and services – will be built on maths and science knowledge and skills.
Research on the changing nature of employment predicts that, by 2030, we will spend 77% more time on average using science and mathematics skills. Between 2006 and 2016, the demand for engineers exceeded the number of local graduates. Employers often look overseas for suitable applicants, with some figures showing more vacancies are filled by overseas engineering graduates than locals.
2. You’ll probably earn more
Some studies have shown students taking higher maths at school go on to have higher earnings in adulthood.
The relationship between studying higher-level maths and earning more may be one of causation (that maths skills lead to higher earners), correlation (that people with good maths skills are more likely to have other skills that lead to higher earnings), or a bit of both. But, either way, it exists.
According to US analysis that compared university majors with median starting pay, median mid-career pay (at least ten years in), growth in salary and wealth of job opportunities, maths and engineering majors reigned supreme.
And a more recent analysis by the US data researcher PayScale found graduates in maths, science and engineering had the highest mid-career salary.
One of the biggest gender gaps in education is seen in maths. Girls in most countries complete less, or lower level, maths than boys.
The low numbers of girls participating in advanced maths courses is not because girls are worse at maths, as there is no clear gender gap when it comes to maths abilities. But girls do show less confidence in their maths skills and more maths anxiety than boys.
Research suggests learning maths is often associated with student anxiety. This anxiety is related to poor performance, negative attitudes and general avoidance of the subject. If girls were encouraged to persist with the challenges presented by advanced levels of maths, we could even see a start to a narrowing of the gender wage gap.
3. You’ll probably be smarter
Another study showed an increase in population IQ alongside a rise in access to maths education. Studies show higher levels of maths attainment for a population are strongly linked to national IQ and national shifts in economic development, such as higher GDP and faster economic growth.