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Encouraging girls in math and science


Replies to: Encouraging girls in math and science

  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 26,700 Senior Member
    I think you also need a cultural attitude where saying "I'm not good at math" or "I can't do math" would be looked at with the same reaction we would give someone who said "I'm not good at reading" or "I can't read". We tend to be very accepting of innumeracy in this country and I hear people saying these things all the time. How many times on these very forums?

    Exactly. High schools generally require four years of reading/eng. for graduation, but why not four years of math?

    Although I've noticed the trend to be changing, but how many times on cc do we see a parent (ahem, usually a mom), proclaim, 'I was not good in math and did fine, and my middle school D doesn't like math, so why should she track on to precalc/calc'?????
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,774 Senior Member
    I think that a lot of the problem is caused by a general belief among americans that math has more to do with natural ability than with practice and effort, so the first time someone says it is hard they decide that person does not have "the ability."

    Well intended parents and elementary teachers start saying things like, "It's okay you just aren't good at math, I wasn't either" which causes the student to stop trying. This is true for girls and boys, but in my experience, parents and teachers are quicker to say this to a girl than a boy. Probably because at some level, they believe that "Girls are good at reading and boys are good at math." (There are a lot of Elementary Education teaches who believe that they are not good at math).

    However, When when a boy is weak in reading, no one says, "Don't worry about it." They increase the focus on it and make sure that the child becomes proficient, as they should. This is less likely to happen with math.

  • tpcrd66tpcrd66 Registered User Posts: 440 Member
    @GMTplus7, Could you kindly give me an example of some non-life science majors? Thanks!
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 13,912 Senior Member
    edited July 2014
    Not the above poster but I researched posts on this thread by that poster. Look at any major school's list of engineering majors. Then look at the list of majors in other schools/colleges of the U. There's chemistry (my favorite- why I and other women friends from college chose it) and physics, astronomy and others. Add math, statistics and computer science. It is so easy to come up with non biological science fields.
  • CanuckguyCanuckguy Registered User Posts: 1,171 Senior Member
    " High schools generally require four years of reading/eng. for graduation, but why not four years of math?"

    Here is part of the Rede Lecture, delivered by C P Snow in 1959:

    "A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?

    I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question — such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read? — not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their neolithic ancestors would have had."

    Things have not really changed. I wonder what Lord Snow would say now...
  • sorghumsorghum Registered User Posts: 3,602 Senior Member
    I wonder what Lord Snow would say now...

    To be pedantic, seemingly he was titled Baron Snow, and according to Wiki "Lord Snow" is the third episode of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones.
  • CanuckguyCanuckguy Registered User Posts: 1,171 Senior Member
    Of course. I stand corrected.
This discussion has been closed.