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Friday, June 06, 2008

Gender Gaps in Math Don't exist in some countries.



Fascinating reading about how some countries just don't have the gender gap in math that we see. Of interest to me, however, would not be the gap but also the aggregate -- are these countries where there is no gap also at the top of mathematics performance?

Also, there is a self-perpetuating bit of it. My husband and I both went to an engineering college (Georgia Tech) and love math. Algebra is one of the great subject loves of my life. (I know I'm a geek.)

So, is it any wonder that my daughter is the top in the standardized test scores? No. I do find it interesting that she wasn't the top of the scores in class, however.

This article in the Boston Globe says

"boys outperform girls on a math test given to children worldwide, but the gender gap is less pronounced in countries where women and men have similar rights and opportunities, according to a study published Thursday.

"In more gender-neutral societies, girls are as good as boys in mathematics," study author Paola Sapienza said in an interview"
I was raised as one of three girls and my Dad never limited what he thought I could do. I took apart computers, had a GI joe and a Barbie, threw the football with Dad and was allowed to freely be what I was interested in.

While I do believe in "acting like a lady" and that good manners are always in good taste, I don't really like dancing (I would have hurt someone) and cleaning house is like a torture to me! (I listen to audio books.)

When I went to Georgia Tech and was accused the first week of being there to "get my MRS degree" by some male students, I got very angry. I wasn't there to find a husband, I was there to learn something! I was also told that "because of your small school, you'll flunk out in a semester."

I didn't even know what AP was when I went to Tech and didn't exempt a thing. Interestingly, I used my anger and knowledge that I was truly at the "bottom of the totem pole" to drive me to study and 4 years later graduated first of my class at Georgia Tech.

I say this not to brag, but to say that there is something to the fact that my Dad and Mom always encouraged me in math and science and never limited me. I never knew that girls weren't supposed to do some things.

I also have always subscribed to the fact that "success is the greatest revenge." And when I went into the business world and lost a big deal that was cut in the men's room (to keep me out of it), literally. I could say "waaaa" but no. The best way to overcome discrimination is to be so good that they need you and to know that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

So, back to these test scores. I think that everyone has the ability to do well in math. Perhaps parents are handing down their own bias that has been there for some time.

I don't know. What do you think? (Please read the article.)

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