A 17-year-old Briton has won a gold medal in an international mathematics competition, becoming the first UK entrant to achieve full marks.
Emily Beatty, who attends King Edward VII school in Sheffield, came joint-first among nearly 200 teenagers who took part. She was one of only five competitors to get a perfect score of 42 out of 42.
The British team finished third of 52 in the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad, which took place in Florence, Italy.
Her teammates Alevtina Studenikina, from Cheltenham Ladies college in Gloucestershire, and Naomi Wei, from City of London Girls’ school, won silver medals for their scores. Melissa Quail, from Longsands academy in Cambridgeshire, won a bronze medal.
The team was chosen by the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT), a charity set up to advance young people’s education in maths.
Speaking the day before the competition, Beatty and her teammates explained why they loved the subject. Beatty said she has always found “elegance in doing mathematics” and that she likes the way “structures weave into each other”.
Studenikina said: “I find Olympiad-style mathematics questions interesting because, even though they do not necessarily seem to have useful applications, principles and skills obtained from solving them help solve real-life problems.”
Quail said she enjoyed solving maths problems as they allowed her the freedom to use her imagination and creativity.
Data shows that 65% of boys who get As in GCSE maths choose to take it at A-level, compared with 43% of girls. Only 39% of maths candidates and 27% of further maths candidates are female.
Speaking to the Times Education Supplement, Beatty’s maths teacher, Graham Harvey, said that older pupils could be good role models for young mathematicians.
“Probably the biggest impact on Emily was from one of our former students, another girl, currently at Cambridge studying maths,” he said. “We have always encouraged our older students to help us run clubs for the younger ones. Emily herself is currently mentoring one of our year 10 students. We also have a significant number of female maths teachers in the department.”
Linda Gooden, the headteacher at King Edward VII school, said: “As a headteacher, I alongside all the other staff in school are really proud of Emily’s success and achievements. We always encourage staff to develop and enhance depth of mathematical understanding from an early age. We are really pleased with Emily’s achievements and know her parents will be proud too.”
Rachel Greenhalgh, the director of the UK Mathematics Trust, said: “The team demonstrated their outstanding problem-solving skills and it is great to see their mathematical potential recognised.
“I thank all those involved, from the maths teachers who support our activities and the UKMT volunteers who run them on our behalf, to our sponsors and supporters, in helping make this possible.”