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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:55 PM
Original message
boys are better at math
Not really, according to this study:

One of the first lessons that girls often learn in elementary school is that boys are better at math.

Although this incorrect lesson is certainly not part of the curriculum, first and second grade teachers, who are predominately female and math-averse, communicate that math is not their strong suit to some female students, according to a study published January 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that the girls who got the idea that math ability falls along gender lines had the worst achievement in this subject during the school year.

"We speculate that having a highly math-anxious female teacher pushes girls to confirm the stereotype that they are not as good as boys at math, which, in turn affects girls' math achievement," wrote the authors.

The research team, led by Susan Levine, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, based its study on two key pieces of information. College students majoring in early elementary education in the U.S., of whom 90 percent are female, hold the highest level of math anxiety compared to students majoring in other subjects. And elementary students emulate the behavior of same-gender adults more than opposite-gender adults.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=litt...
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JI7 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. i thought the whole "boys are better at math" thing went away long time ago
wasn't it more something from the 50s and before.

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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Mattel, 1992
Teen Talk Barbie says, "Math class is tough!"
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. Speaking of Barbie...


The worst part is probably that it says "Ken"
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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. a Tramp Stamp?
According to Mattel, This type of open-ended, creative play is a healthy form of self expression that Barbie brings to girls.

And it looks like she had another tat removed higher up. :rofl:
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. It keeps hanging around for a bunch of reasons.
First, there is a correlation in gender and spatial manipulation ability. It's stood up for 50 years, cross-culturally. Moreover, not only is it gender related, it's actually nicely dependent on testosterone, so if you look at men and women separately you can make pretty good predictions on the outcome of the test based upon blood assays.

That's not the main issue. The main issue is how to measure "mathematical ability". Is it arithmetic? Symbolic manipulation? Surely spatial relationships are tied in, so there should be some bias--but is it measureable? Should there be a difference in proofs? If proofs, what kind--geometric? analytic?

Do you measure ability by testing skills, which is at least as dependent on interest as on "innate ability"? Do you limit it to what's just be covered in class, so that what's tested are actually study skills?

So recently a spate of studies showed that in "sex equality" countries, I think the term was, girls did at least as good as boys, on average, in terms of schoolwork. In other countries that are still biased, presumably, this doesn't hold true. However, there's also been work showing that as school systems tried to achieve gender equality in schools they alter teaching methods, and in at least some cases the alterations are more in keeping with average girl than average boy behavior. Unlike the way things were taught 50 years ago. So again, we're looking at skills and knowledge learned, and the results depend on the teaching.

What's left is looking at variance and accounting for all of it. If under reasonable assumptions there's no variance left for differences in innate ability to account for, we assume it's equal. But that's hardly the same as testing and showing that they're the same. In fact, such an indirect methodology screams for somebody to try to falsify it.

It won't go away because the old GPA studies still exist, at upper levels in math education there's still an achievement gap, and because even good studies can't eliminate confounds. Instead, one group assumes that the confounds aren't realistic or likely, and the other does. Not very helpful, that.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. yeah, I had some of those teachers
In fact, I had a lot of teachers who told me it was impossible for me to do what I was doing and not just in math.

I learned to ignore them and pitch a snot slinging fit if they tried to hold me back.

Of course, I had a mother who raised me to be uppity.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
3. Women in my family are all good at math.
A couple of them are really, really, really good at it and have advanced degrees in some math-related field.

The idea that boys are better at math is pure nonsense.

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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 07:12 PM
Response to Reply #3
11. I was really, really good at math in high school.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 07:15 PM by MineralMan
My main competitor was a wonderful red-headed girl in my class. She won. After she won, we dated for a while. She was a very curious young woman. We got along famously. But she won, no hands down. We ended up as co-valedictorians, but we'd broken up by then.

She won. That means that the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong.

Sadly, her next boyfriend didn't like smart girls. She dumbed down for him and ended up never realizing her potential. Now, that was a tragedy. I hated that, and still do.
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
5. An excellent example of a self-fulfilling prophecy
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we can do it Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
6. Teachers Call On Boys More Often
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Kceres Donating Member (839 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. When I was in high-school girls were not allowed to take "shop."
Not only were we not allowed to take the class, it was against policy to step over the threshold into the room. No kidding. This was in Memphis in the mid-70s. Still makes me fume.
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beyurslf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
8. I would worry about any adult teaching 1st or 2nd grade talking about math being
"not a strong suit" for them. What is that math? 2+2? Seriously?
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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
9. I notice the article left out the fact that girls are always told they are better at English
as a boy in school, my female teachers used to express surprise that I could write; I guess boys were expected to be inarticulate cavemen who just wanted to play football.
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. That's a big problem in our local school system
They keep boys out of the honors English pretty systematically. We had to fight to get our son in there (he was snoozing through the "regular" English and his teacher was flabbergasted by his placement. I think there are 3 boys total in honors English, which is the most it's been in his 3 years at the high school.

They're also racist... but that's another story.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
10. The problem a lot of people have is bad math teachers.
In high school I took Geometry and Algebra II from a dingaling who was not a math major.
She would explain every problem twice, and then say, "You should know that".
The kids in class who made A's would not help me. I was screwed.

I made a D in geometry and an F in algebra. Flunked algebra again in college, which they referred to sneeringly as "Jolly Numbers". It was hell getting math. I had to take 3 hours of logic in the philosophy dept. and 3 hours of algebra or something else.

I took Linear Algebra, and didn't understand anything after the first third of the course, with XY graphs. That I could deal with. My boyfriend at the time (future MIT grad) was best friend's with the professor's son (future Carnegie Mellon grad), and that's the only way I got through it with a C. The prof decided to be nice and pass me because of the connection with his son.
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pansypoo53219 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:02 PM
Response to Original message
12. i rocked in algebra.
but i'm dyslexic.
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nickinSTL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
17. never a problem in my family
considering that my mom is much better at math than my dad, always balanced the checkbook, did the taxes, figured tips, etc.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 04:44 PM
Response to Original message
18. Try telling that to my mom.
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Bigmack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
19. Aaaag! Math
I graduated college with an honors degree BUT my efforts to be a physics major collapsed with a 5 hour "D" in Calculus! I worked harder for that "D" than ANY "A" in ANY other course! And Trig was always a mystery to me too. And in my old age, I'm convinced that my problems were because my brain is NOT wired for "directionality." My old man is almost NEVER turned around, and I get turned around going around the block. I'm convinced that that is the root of my problems with higher level math! I don't know whether it's gender related or not, but I know it's a "wiring" problem! And I've always wondered if there might be a statistical tendency for the female of the species to have this wiring deficiency. I'll put $ that the male of the species is statistically less intuitive than the female of the species, but who the hell knows? Ms Bigmack
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