BHP Billiton wants more girls to study maths

BHP Billiton has launched a $22 million partnership with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute to increase the representation of women in the field of mathematics.

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie joined AMSI director Professor Geoff Prince along with Senator Scott Ryan to announce the ‘Choose Maths’ program at The University of Melbourne.

BHP said the program’s aim was to help influence the perception of mathematics among girls and young women and address a decline in Australians studying maths and entering STEM related careers.

“Australian industry knows that STEM professionals are vital to our future prosperity, national productivity and global competitiveness.  For the resources industry this is especially true,” Mackenzie said.

“BHP Billiton employs 123,000 people worldwide, many of them STEM professionals, so we share the responsibility to make sure there is a pipeline of young people who choose to study STEM subjects.

“Any increase in STEM participation is good news but an increase in female representation is especially valuable because of the undeniable benefits of diversity.

Core components of the ‘Choose Maths’ program include professional development for teachers in 120 schools and additional resources for schools across the country, a national women in mathematics careers awareness campaign, scholarships and networking support for women in maths and an awards program to recognise excellence in teaching and learning.

Prince said the Choose Maths program would draw on research-based strategies to create a pipeline of female talent and help address the gender wage gap.

"The low participation of girls and women in the study of the mathematical sciences and in the quantitative professions is a significant national social and economic challenge,” Prince said.

Funding for the program will be provided by the BHP Billiton Foundation over five years.

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