The underrepresentation of girls and women in advanced mathematics courses in the final years of high school, in university mathematics degrees, and in mathematics-related careers and professions is well documented and of concern for gender-equity as well as economic reasons. How does this disproportion agree with the hypothesis that ‘Girls and boys can learn maths equally well'?

Is there a difference in mathematical abilities and attitudes between the genders? What factors influence - positively or negatively - gender differences? What changes occur during the school years and how can negative trends be ameliorated or reversed?

This talk looks at differences between genders in their mathematical abilities and attitudes.

To gain some insights into nature versus nurture, we draw on the concepts of maths anxiety, self-confidence in and attitude to mathematics of students and teachers in the recent literature.

We link these insights with results from an analysis of more than 8000 surveys of year 5 to year 9 students which were collected as part of the CHOOSEMATHS program of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute from 2016 to 2019. The findings are encouraging and point to directions which can improve confidence of less confident (female) students in their mathematical abilities.

All welcome!


5:00-6:00pm: Lecture by Prof Inge Koch in Colombo Theatre B, UNSW Sydney

6:00-7:00pm: Refreshments and Australian Women of Mathematics Exhibition viewing in Colombo foyer.

About the speaker

Inge Koch is a Statistician with research interests in the analysis of high-dimensional and functional data, ranging from new methodology to cross-disciplinary collaborations including biologists and medical experts. She has a strong background in pure and applied mathematics and experience in industry and the CSIRO. Since the completion of her PhD in statistics at the Australian National University, she taught statistics at the University of Newcastle, and UNSW Sydney. In 2009, she became Associate Professor in Statistics at the University of Adelaide, and, in 2019, she moved to UWA as Professor of Statistics and Data Science. Inge joined RMIT as Associate Dean, Mathematical Sciences in February 2023.

Throughout her career, Inge has been a champion for mathematics and gender diversity in mathematics, passionate about encouraging young women to study maths at all levels and to follow careers that use maths skills. She is a co-founder of the Do The Maths (formerly Girls Do The Maths) initiative at UNSW, a program that began in 2004 and still flourishes today. She brought the same commitment to diversity to the University of Adelaide through her involvement with the Women in Mathematics Workshops. In 2015, she became Executive Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) and its CHOOSEMATHS Program, aiming to change public perception of mathematics in order to improve participation, particularly of girls and women, in mathematics across Australia. At UWA she combined this interest with developing statistical data science at all levels ranging from a first year new data science course to research forums involving staff from all faculties. She has been part of the National Review panel for Data Science, jointly organised by AMSI and the SSA, and is a member of the AMSI board.

Inge has great expectations for her new position at RMIT; combining her background in gender diversity in mathematics, her involvement in data science with mathematics education at all levels, research and collaborations across the STEM college and beyond.


Thursday 8 June 2023 


5:00-6:00pm: Lecture by Prof Inge Koch 

6:00-7:00pm: Refreshments and Australian Women of Mathematics Exhibition viewing 


Professor Inge Koch


Colombo Theatre B (ref: B16 on the campus map)




Do The Maths program