The role of mathematics in this modern era of technology is wide and weight. In line with this reasoning, the curriculum offers opportunity in mathematics for both male and female students and it contain mathematics component that is relevant to the development of a society particularly, science achievement technology accountant, money management, data processing and problem solving skill.
Students usually have considerable skills in mathematics of which they often not aware. They researcher’s intention is for both boys and girls to build upon these skills equally, while going on appreciation of their use in WASSCE examinations. There is no doubt that a good part of scientific knowledge is derived from the content of mathematics. Indeed, without adequate background in mathematics students may have limited choice of career and if mathematics is indeed a critical filter.
Fennema (1990) excluding uninitiated from contributing to society through science and engineering, then we must be especially careful to prepare students by providing them with a sufficient educational background in mathematics. Moreover, it is our social responsibility to ensure all student leave school equally well versed.
Sierra Leone is still lagging behind other countries in terms of provision science and mathematics education for girls. Female education and training in African science is generally characterized by performance and achievement leads than those of boys, especially in mathematics and other technical subjects (Gachukia and Kabiru 1991). One may then see the appropriateness of Havards president; Lawrence Summers recent statement that women might be intrinsically disadvantaged in studying science and mathematics (Red, 2003; Fogg 2005a) (Fogg 2005b).
Gender has continued to be an issue of concern to educators and researchers. This is evident from the research carried out by the ministry of education in Sierra Leone over the years has revealed that female students are performing badly in WASSCE mathematics than boys. Finding into the main factors responsible for such performance have shown by various researchers like Kadzimira (1986) Adeyete et al (1987). They note that gender has impact on mathematics education. Male supremacy and gender stereotyping are factors among other that were identified to influence occupation choice.
Hence Longe and Adedeji (2003) are the opinion that mathematics and technology are male-dominated subjects and those females tend to shy away from mathematics and technological field. Boys therefore appear to have a natural. Positive attitude to mathematics and technical subject while girls show negative attitude.
This negative attitude appears to be due to the acceptance of the myth that boys are better in mathematics than girls. Babajide (2010) further admitted that mathematics is a given masculine outlook by educational practioners.
Studies conducted across African countries including Sierra Leone have reported disparity in the education of girls and woman in mathematics and technology (Iyang and Ekpeyong 2000). Also in 1993 a workshop was organized by professor Adonis Labour, Mr. Nabieu M Kamara and Juliet Dulazark and other on gender differences in mathematics science and technology they were able to outline the causes for disparity, as follows:-
- a. The double dilemma of girls in mathematics.
- b. The unscientific nature of the society
- c. The inadequate of mathematics teachers situation
- d. The sex-role stereotypes
- e. The prejudice students have against mathematics in teaching situations.
Their investigation shows clear evidence that more ladies are found in the commercial and Arts faculty than in the science faculty in the senior secondary schools in Sierra Leone particular.
This is as a result of the fact that the cause or subject that student choose and pass at high school or senior secondary school and their subsequent academic performance can influence not only admission to college but also their of a college major(Mbathia 2005). Starting from junior secondary school, girls tend to underestimate their abilities in mathematics despite the fact that their academic performance may remain at apart with those of boys (Pajores 2000).
This trend continues in high schools which consequently result to few numbers of female studying mathematics at tertiary level. According to report boys recorded higher percentage of credit pass than female students in mathematics in west African examination council(WAEC) WASSCE between 2012 and 2018 as a test period, is an evidence of gender inequality of performance in mathematics for instance, in 2013, 29.20% of boys passed mathematics at credit level and above as against 17.66% of girls in the same year. Also in 2017, 33.39% of boys and 23.90% of girls passed mathematics at credit level.
In the report entitled “ the scientific and technological education of girls in high school in Africa” Ms Alice Tiendrebeobo, minister of women’s affairs in Burkinafaso began by underlying the essential role of women played in national economy especially in agriculture where they account for 60-80% of food crops as well as in the management of natural resources. She regretted that girls aren’t given sufficient basic training or suitable and technical training to help them fulfill these responsibilities.
In line with this Ogunleye (2002), Ezirim (2006) and Otuba (2007) observed that gender has significant influence mathematics achievement while Agommuoh and Nzewi (2003) and Babajede (2010) found that gender has no significant influence achievement in mathematics. The influence of gender on academic achievement is therefore imperative for more studies to be dedicated the influence of gender in students achievement in mathematics.