Gender Differences in the Level of Engagement with Mathematics Support in Higher Education in Ireland

Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn, O. Fitzmaurice, C. Mac an Bhaird, C. O’Sullivan
  • International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, June 2016, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s40753-016-0031-4

Is there a gender-based difference in attendance levels at mathematics support in higher education?

What is it about?

This study looks at responses from over 1,600 higher education students around Ireland, and asks them if they used any of the free mathematics support services in their own institution. We then consider whether there is a difference in the levels of engagement with such services between male and female students. We found that female students were almost two-and-a-half times more likely to use mathematics support, when controlling for their degree programme, prior mathematical achievements and institution attended. We also looked at reasons students gave for not attending.

Why is it important?

Mathematics support is a free service which aims to help any student who feels they need it in higher education. By better understanding which students attend and why other students do not attend, we can better tailor our service and our outreach, to ensure that all students who need help can get it. This is the first study that looked at attendance at mathematics support by gender, and it showed clearly that female students are far more likely to engage with mathematics support.


Dr Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn (Author)
Dublin City University

This was an interesting paper for us to write - although we had all observed these kinds of patterns in our own institutions, we had not expected to see such an obvious difference as that which emerged. We hope that this work will help to better tailor mathematics support services to all students who could benefit from using them.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn