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1/2 of all state schools have no girls sitting physics A level

(392 Posts)
Himalaya Wed 03-Oct-12 08:46:52


Just listening on the radio. sad

Thoughts? Experience? Ideas?

rogersmellyonthetelly Fri 12-Oct-12 09:29:02

There is definately some truth about how a sexist teacher can really put someone off a subject. I got an a* in physics at gcse, an a at as level, in the final year of a levels we had a new teacher. He was patronising sexist git and both myself and the other girl in my physics class of 15 had dropped out of the course within months. He basically ignored us, spent as little time as possible helping us before moving on to the boys, none of whom dropped out, and all of whom passed at c grade and above.

harbingerofdoom Wed 10-Oct-12 20:30:11

I'm afraid that Stats just wasn't taught at my DD's school. They were given a few work sheets and then put in for the exam.
When the admission's tutor at DD2's college looked over the GCSE results, he rather wryly said that it was a shame about the A!

MrAnchovy Tue 09-Oct-12 12:10:06

@harbingerofdoom no, I am an accountant by my degree was in Maths.

prettybird Tue 09-Oct-12 10:28:45

I noticed this morning on the breakfast TV that the (very attractive) lady who was talking about the forthcoming progamme on icebergs was described as a "Physicist and Oceanographer". smile

The guy she had been working with was described as "Diver and climber" (because those were the two roles he performed on the expedition) although I suspect he is also a scientist.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 09-Oct-12 08:56:47

Mama - a name change to DandelionCounter may be required grin

Some of the posts on here are really informative! Hopefully when Science & Nature Club gets up and running I can link back to this thread which I think could provoke about five new discussions!

mamabanana Tue 09-Oct-12 08:34:36

I'll have a go at explaining from the perspective of a scientist who uses statistics but is not a statistician! If am doing an experiment to see the effect of something e.g. to see if mowing my lawn increases the number of dandelions, I would collect data (count the number of dandelions) before mowing and then after mowing. I would then use an appropriate statistical test on my data. Many of these tests are run on computers, so it will also work out the probability of differences between the two sets of data being due to chance or not. Scientists work on a probability of 5% being significant - this meaning that there is only a 5% probability that differences between the 'before and after' data occurred due to chance and therefore, there is a 95% probability that the differences are real and significant. If you get a probability greater than 5%, you cannot say that differences in your data are real. Even if on paper it looks like there is a difference! Scientists are very cautious by nature (mostly..).

I hope that doesn't come across as a load of waffle blush. And obviously I don't really spend my days counting dandelions....

kim147 Mon 08-Oct-12 21:54:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kim147 Mon 08-Oct-12 21:53:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

harbingerofdoom Mon 08-Oct-12 21:23:54

MrA are you an actuary?

MrAnchovy Mon 08-Oct-12 15:12:30

Oh, the question was what is the link whereas my answer was what is the difference!

The link is uncertainty or variability.

Probability is about the prediction of events the outcome of which is uncertain or variable.

Statistics is about the observation of events which exhibit uncertainty or variability.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 13:16:05

That's a very good way of putting it, MrA, though the word 'probability' is used also in relation to statistics eg the probability that a result is meaningful if its within 2 or 3 sigma or whatever. Or the probability of a smoker having a heart attack by age Y is X whereas for a nonsmoker its Z - that sort of thing.

MrAnchovy Mon 08-Oct-12 13:06:33

Probability is about prediction; you don't need any data to do probability.

Statistics is about observation; you can't do any statistics without data.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 08-Oct-12 09:43:01

Probability in the mathematical sense is the coin-flipping, dice rolling sort of thing. You can calculate the chance of 5 heads in a row, that sort of thing. One aspect of statistics applies probabilities to the real world to anwer questions such as 'what is the probability that this experimental result is just chance'. I found this which I think explains quite well (though at some length).

rabbitstew Mon 08-Oct-12 09:24:33

Or is there only a link when you are confused, as per the cot death cases?

Now I'm confused and intrigued. I wish someone had taught me a bit about statistics!

rabbitstew Mon 08-Oct-12 09:20:12

What's the link between probability and statistics? I did probability as part of my A-level maths, but did not study "statistics." I therefore presumed they were different...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 07-Oct-12 21:45:01

I know, I didn't do stats or biology to any level of qualificationand it didn't sound right to me when the case was reviewed ... I am sure doctors now study some medical statistics in their course or in preceding A levels.

kim147 Sun 07-Oct-12 21:41:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 07-Oct-12 21:28:21

I agree kim, so tragic.

YoullLaughAboutItOneDay Sun 07-Oct-12 21:27:11

Yes, I still don't understand how not one person in her defence team said 'hang on, those stats treat them as independent events. We don't know if there is a linked, unidentified cause'.

kim147 Sun 07-Oct-12 21:23:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YoullLaughAboutItOneDay Sun 07-Oct-12 21:16:11

My maths A level in the late 90s was a combination of pure and applied, and the applied was a mix of mechanics and stats. I am a lawyer and it often terrifies me how little lawyers, including employment judges (my area) often know about stats and how easily they are swayed by stats that aren't actually very persuasive if you understand them. I strongly believe that A level students should have some mandatory core courses - not necessarily even examined, just covered - in important elements like that.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 07-Oct-12 20:50:03

nickel - I think your maths teacher had a point. Its bizarre that most physical science students (in my day) had done very little stats at school - we did a stats course in first year of chemistry degree, the first thing they did in physics subsid was measuring straws as a simple exercise in reporting results properly with standard deviations - we never did that at school. The people doing biology and chemistry usually did maths&stats single A level.
Wouldn't a double award covering pure, some applied and stats make more sense?

Of course its not just scientists... when you think of all the misrepresentation of scientific results in newspapers, serious miscarriages of justice etc stats should be a prerequisite for lawyers, journos, economists, politicians...

Sorry, I digress but maybe this also plays into the narrowness of A-level choices, Arts or STEM subjects.

rabbitstew Sun 07-Oct-12 18:23:22

The male teachers mainly did the arty subjects grin.

prettybird Sun 07-Oct-12 15:54:53

My crap Physics teacher was female and the good one was male, so it just goes to show you can't generalise.

This was in Scotland, so both would have had to have Physics degrees in order to teach it.

ClaudiaCardinale Sun 07-Oct-12 13:43:45

I suppose it was a silly question, rabbitstew!

I went to mixed schools (and so does my daughter, now, since a few weeks ago), and I have never had anything to do wth single sex schools, of either variety. I suppose I assumed, without really thinking about it, that they would generally employ teachers of both sexes.

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