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Girls losing mastery of maths
The West Australian

International test results have revealed a worrying downward trend in girls' mastery of maths.

Australia's maths performance declined more for girls than boys between 2003 and last year.

Student surveys collected as part of the Program for International Student Assessment also showed Australian girls held more negative beliefs than boys about maths.

Sixty per cent of girls said they were not good at solving maths problems, compared with 44 per cent of boys.

Sue Thomson, director of educational monitoring at the Australian Council for Educational Research, was concerned Australia had slipped to the type of gender disparity common decades ago.

Presbyterian Ladies' College, one of 775 Australian schools to take part in the PISA testing last year, bucked the national trend, with principal Beth Blackwood reporting more interest in maths in the past five years.

She said educators had to be aware that many girls showed a greater preference for language in their early years of learning while boys leaned towards spatial awareness.

"The fact they might have a preference doesn't mean to say they don't have the ability," she said.

Parents also had to be mindful they were not perpetuating the myth that girls were not good at maths.

PLC students said they loved maths because it was so logical.

"Maths just makes sense," Year 10 student Amelia Murray said.