Science and mathematics are not cool subjects, say students. Consequently, if these subjects are compulsory, students opt for an easier stream in secondary school and are less likely to transition to university science programs. In addition, female students are under-represented in areas such as mathematics, physics and astronomy. Around the world, the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are in grave trouble in secondary and tertiary institutions. But worse, STEM university graduates may not work in a field of their expertise, leaving STEM agencies and organizations to hire from a shrinking pool.
In 1995, 14 percent of Year 12 secondary school mathematics students studied advanced mathematics, while 37 percent studied elementary mathematics, according to the Australian Mathematical Science Institute. Fifteen years later, in 2010, 10 percent were studying advanced mathematics and 50 percent took the easier option of elementary mathematics. The Australian Mathematical Science Institute revealed that basic mathematics was