The charity National Numeracy recently commissioned a survey from YouGov to ask adults in the UK about their level of numeracy, how it affects them in everyday life and their attitude towards it. It showed:
• 37% of people who wanted to improve their numeracy in order to better manage their money.
• 26% said that getting better at everyday activities such as DIY and cooking was important.
• 25% wanted a better understanding of statistics in the media.
Numeracy and Work
Interestingly, only 7% wanted to improve numeracy to get a job, but this figure on its own might be misleading. This is because 12% said they wanted to improve numeracy to get a better job, and 14% to get better at the job they already have. We don’t know how many people ticked more than one of these. But clearly a good number of the people who wanted to improve their numeracy skills wanted to use them to increase their job prospects or performance.
When asked if they wanted to improve their numeracy skills 28% said they did, and but only 5% said they were already taking steps to do so.
Numeracy and the Media
One result I found particularly interesting was the difference in how women and men viewed statistics in the media. About the same proportion of women and men wanted to improve their numeracy in order to understand statistics (24% and 26% – about 1 in 4) However, when asked:
Which, if any, of the following do you think studying for this level of school certificate in Mathematics has prepared you well for?
Only 30% of women said that they felt GCSE Maths (or equivalent) prepared them to understand statistics compared to 46% of men. On the next question, 19% of women revealed that they found understanding statistics challenging, compared to 10% of men. That’s almost twice as many.
I wonder what it is about statistics and the teaching of statistics that has that effect for women? Is it something you have trouble with or is there something else you find challenging? Let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full survey is here