The professional federations for the banking, insurance and digital industries are concerned about the effects of the baccalaureate reform on the teaching of mathematics to girls in high school. In view of the widening gap between boys' and girls' educational attainment, they are sounding the alarm and suggesting, for example, the introduction of a target for gender diversity in specialization courses.
Maths disappears from the core curriculum
The introduction of the bac reform, widely decried by the teaching profession, has led to a considerable drop in the number of young people taking math. Indeed, since its disappearance from the core curriculum, the subject is chosen as a speciality by only 37% of final-year students.
In terms of volume, the number of hours allocated to math has fallen significantly. The French Ministry of Education states that 180,000 hours of maths were taught in 1ère and terminale in 2018, compared with 150,000 in 2020, a drop of 18%. It is therefore the second subject to have declined the most, after technology.
Although in September 2021, 37.5% of Terminale students chose maths as a special subject, there are significant disparities. For example, fewer and fewer girls are taking up this subject, accounting for just 40% of students. The Ministry also notes an over-representation of students from very privileged social backgrounds.
Banks and insurers defend gender diversity in scientific fields
The professional federations of the banking, insurance and digital industries are alarmed by the low number of young women taking scientific and technical courses, particularly since mathematics is now only an option in 1ère. It has to be said that most of the banking and insurance professions are made up of engineers from these fields. In addition, the recruitment of data scientists, cybersecurity specialists and Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists has increased to meet the needs of the digital transition.
To continue meeting their recruitment needs, the industry federations, France Assureurs, the French Banking Federation (FBF) and Syntec, are calling for " gender diversity targets to be set in high school specialty courses ", i.e. quotas for girls in math and science subjects. They suggest setting these at 30% within 3 years, starting in 2022, and 40% by 2028.
Generally speaking, the three federations are calling for a rethink of the relationship between higher education and the business world, for example by systematically revising diplomas to take account of the skills required in the field.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of Education, seems to have heard the critics, and on February 17 announced the creation of an " expert committee " on mathematics tasked with hearing from those involved in the discipline.