All stars ... clockwise from the left, Shelley She, Alice Kemp, Lauren Madigan and Mary Nguyen. Photo: Tamara Dean
SHELLEY SHE and her fellow female maths whizzes have defied the numbers.
Though the subject is more popular with boys, a clean sweep of young women received first in course awards for every mathematics course at a ceremony on Tuesday, as the first tranche of 2012 HSC results was announced.
Shelley topped Mathematics Extension One and Two. More boys attempted these subjects, with enrolments in Extension Two almost two-thirds male.
‘‘I was shocked at first because there’s a lot of competition from guys at my school,’’ said Shelley, who attended the selective James Ruse Agricultural High School.
Young women took two-thirds of the awards overall, which recognise students who have come first in an HSC course and scored in the top band in their final exams.
From 6am on Wednesday, all students can access their HSC results over the internet, by phone or text message.
The Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, was pleased to see female students dominating the first place winners, especially in mathematics.
‘‘I just think it’s fantastic for the individuals but fantastic for the broader community as well, where some of those traditional ideas about what girls should do well in and what boys should do well in are breaking down,’’ he said.
‘‘As a male I’ve got to say it’s time for the boys to step back up and really be competitive.’’
Tom Alegounarias, the president of the Board of Studies, said the girls’ strong results were part of a trend. ‘‘We see it as an international trend and part of the changing nature of society,’’ he said.
None of the young women who topped maths said she was deterred by its popularity with boys. ‘‘I’m a bit of a feminist so I’ve never really cared if the boys were in there. I’m going to compete just as much,’’ said Alice Elizabeth Kemp, from Bowral High School, who came equal first in General Mathematics.
One of the highest achievers was Mischa Davenport, who scooped the pool in European languages, where girls outnumber boys two to one across the state.
Mischa, from Sydney Grammar, was the top performer in French Extension, German Extension, Italian Continuers and Italian Extension.
He said he thought in all four languages, depending on which part of the world he was in. And he could chop and change mid-sentence.
‘‘I was writing an email to my German friend the other day, half in English and half in German,’’ he said. He plans to go to Honduras for six months next year to learn Spanish.
Jonathan Parker from St Aloysius’ College, also won first place in the female-dominated course English Advanced. Male students took the top places in most science courses, including biology, chemistry and physics.