The Royal Spanish Mathematical Society and the Ramón Areces Foundation present an exhaustive analysis of the situation of mathematics in aspects such as education, career opportunities, socioeconomic impact, outreach, gender equality, internationalization and research.
The Royal Spanish Mathematical Society (RSME), together with the Ramón Areces Foundation, today presents theWhite Book of Mathematics, an extensive analysis that addresses the need to undertakemultiple improvements for the development of this science "as a cornerstone of the digital and knowledge society".
"The reason for thisWhite book is, fundamentally, to offer a collective reflection on the part of a scientific and mathematical society that does not enjoy therecognition social and institutional that it deserves ”, clarifies the president of the RSME, Francisco Marcellán.
Prepared by more than 60 specialists, the document offers an x-ray of the situation of this numerical science in multiple daily aspects in which it intervenes, such as education, professional opportunities, socioeconomic impact, dissemination, gender equality, internationalization and research. They also accompany these questions with 64 recommendations or proposals for improvement.
Regarding the mathematics education that students receive, the main recommendation expresses the need to formalize aeducational pact to avoid the harmful effects that normative instability produces on student learning.
This book indicates that, currently, the Spanish educational system is based on teaching a wide range of knowledge thatmake it difficult to acquire authentic skills mathematics. These are based on thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. "Making the learning of mathematics something mechanical, without giving the student autonomy to decide, can be a wrong line", warns David Martín, second vice president of the RSME.
The report also expressly requests that all students be supported, without leaving aside those with moredifficulties and empowering those with special abilities. To do this, they warn of the lack of trained teachers "due to the wide professional opportunities in non-academic fields that, in addition to better remuneration, open up much more dynamic promotion horizons."
"It would be convenient to implement a plan so that students of the Mathematics degrees perceive teaching in Secondary as an attractive profession with added social value", consider the experts.
“The social recognition of the teacher is necessary. Many faculty positions are being filled bygraduates of other degrees”, Emphasizes the second vice president of the mathematical society.
“You have to motivate the student to learn mathematics. When talking about thepandemic growth curve, or how much piece of cake you have left to eat, you are talking about math. That can help to understand ”, adds its president, Francisco Marcellán.
Quick access to the market
On the professional opportunities of those who choose this branch, a survey conducted among mathematics graduates and included in theWhite book estimates an activity rate of 87.7% and an unemployment rate of 7.5%, an unemployment rateless than half than that existing among the general population (16.53%).
Additionally, it refers to the rapid incorporation into the labor market of mathematicians, since two years after finishing their studies the unemployment rate stands at just 4.4%. It also stands out that theAverage salary it is between 20,000 and 29,000 euros per year, with stable contracts for 61.7% of respondents.
By sectors, the fields that more people surveyed occupy are theuniversity-research (27.7%), thepre-university education (16.1%) andconsultancy (15.6%). In total, mathematical activity contributes 630,000 jobs to the Spanish economy, indicate those responsible for the document.
Regarding the differences in terms of gender, the mathematical community is concerned about the insufficient incorporation of women into the labor market, "a loss of female mathematical talent that should be addressed urgently," the study considers.
They believe that, although they obtain better academic grades, “they mistakenly perceive thatthey are not as good as their male companions, in good part because of social stereotypes ”.
As in other scientific fields, experts indicate that any temporary stoppage for reasons ofconciliation or pregnancy it is an obstacle that hinders proportion and future continuity.
In the research section, theWhite book affects the difficulty that mathematicians may haveforeign to access both university teaching staff training contracts (FPU) and research staff training contracts (FPI). Possible factors that explain this circumstance include the excessive bureaucracy required, the reduced scope in which these contracts are promoted or the lack of regularity, among others.
Even so, those responsible for the report perceive a notable improvement in terms of the number of citations on Spanish publications and the level of the journals in which they appear.
“We must aspire to improve the teaching level. We acquire the commitment to put Spanish mathematics on the first international level ”, encourages Marcellán. “Of the 100 best universities in mathematics in the world,three are spanish: the Autonomous of Madrid, the Polytechnic of Catalonia, and the University of Granada ", it indicates.
“We have to overcome this old separation between scientific and humanistic culture when, deep down, it is only one to ensure that citizens are autonomous andwith own criteria”, Considers Francisco Marcellán, president of the RSME.
In turn, the leader stressed that “it is important that the conclusions are known to those responsible for thepublic administrations, foundations and the private sector, by political agents who must implement actions based on rigorous and logical support ”, he concludes.