Saturday, March 20, 2004

Remedial Mathematics for Education Ministers

I heard Brendan Nelson on AM today, being very huffy about the peace deal between the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Sydney Catholic Education Office which allows the Catholic Education Office to offer twelve male only teaching scholarships as long as it also offers twelve female only teaching scholarships. Doctor Nelson demanded to know how this measure could possibly increase the percentage of male primary teachers:

[It's been told that in order to attract more men into teaching, it has to attract more women into teaching as well, and if you offer in this case, 12 male and 12 female scholarships, how on earth does that change the percentage of primary school teachers who are men?]

Here's a simple answer.

Imagine you have 76 primary school teachers (who all play trombone in their spare time), all of whom are female. The percentage of male teachers is, therefore, zero. Now add 24 new teachers, 12 male and twelve female. You now have 100 primary school teachers 12% of whom are male and 88% female. The percentage of trombone players is at least 76% but we can't say any more than that without knowing if any new trombone players were added.

Update: Now that today's AM is finally on-line, I've been able to add the relevant excerpt from the transcript to this post. Of course, Dr Nelson sounds much better in audio.

No comments: