Fund manager Wilson Asset Management and prominent businessman David Paradice will help fund UNSW’s School of Mathematics and Statistics’ Girls Do The Maths (GDTM), a program that’s been contributing to a steady increase in female students undertaking maths-related study at the University.

The number of female Honours students in the Advanced Maths program doubled from 2015 to 2021, and female students make up about 50% of this year’s Bachelor of Data Science and Decisions cohort.

GDTM is a career awareness program for girls in high school, that aims to inspire them to consider study and careers in mathematics and statistics. It offers a range of opportunities for girls in their senior years of school to explore maths-based careers, including one-day workshops, online resources, and stories from female role models in the workforce.

Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics Adelle Coster conceived GDTM with two female colleagues 17 years ago. She says the trio were acutely aware of the underrepresentation of females in the Australian workforce on one hand, and the deep satisfaction of having careers as mathematicians on the other.

“In Australia, fewer and fewer young women are studying advanced maths in senior school. Women comprised just 35% of STEM course enrolments and 37% of STEM course completions in Australia in 2018*,” Professor Coster says.

“With the pipeline for the next generation of female leaders in maths- and STEM- based careers still lacking, gender disparity in the Australian mathematical sciences workforce will continue. That’s unless we show these young women examples of the interesting, well-paid and fulfilling careers that are possible from studying maths.”

Kate Thorley, Chief Executive Officer at Wilson Asset Management, says her company is proud to support GDTM to encourage female students to pursue their interests and talents in mathematics.

“Increased gender diversity has undoubtedly improved the financial services industry,” she says. “I hope the program will show girls that funds management is one rewarding place mathematics can take you.”

Long-term supporter of GDTM, David Paradice, who funds scholarships and prizes under the program, says it’s critical for girls to feel supported in pursuit of academic excellence in maths and STEM disciplines.

“We need to show young women that maths isn’t just a ‘boys’ subject’ and that fundamental mathematical skills are crucial, particularly in high-paying jobs such as engineering, physics, data science and computer programming,” he says.

“I am thankful that I can provide support for female maths students at UNSW – past, present and future – to contribute to creating a much-needed, balanced workforce in Australian mathematical sciences.”

Prof. Coster thanked Wilson Asset Management and Mr Paradice for supporting the program.

“Thanks to the generous support from our donors over the years, Girls Do The Maths has been able to expand its reach beyond Sydney to participants in regional areas across New South Wales. We have had enquiries about the program from as far afield as the Philippines.

“The scholarships and prizes for the most talented female maths students at UNSW have been an incredibly impactful part of our program, through which we can truly inspire young women to reach for the sky in their mathematical lives.”

For more information about UNSW’s GDTM program and how you can get involved, please visit the School of Mathematics & Statistics website.

*Australian Government Stem Equity Monitor 2020