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Friday, April 26, 2013

Breaking Down Stereotypes in Mathematics

Why do girls not do as well as boys in math?  What is the problem?  How can educators reverse the trend thereby allowing girls to have the same opportunities to pursue careers involving advanced mathematics that boys have?

This infographic ..brilliant women in mathematics...highlights the key issues behind the stereotypes women face in math-oriented careers.  The stereotypes have surfaced at all levels in society including the toy industry.  Though the Mattel doll who said "Math class is tough" has been off the market since 1992, the belief still persists that math comes more easily to boys than girls.  Women are still a minority in fields demanding keen math skills.  Why is this?  Are the brains of men naturally better wired for math than women? 

Well, it seems that it is not a matter of wiring of the brain, but rather how the two sexes attack math problems.  Women take more time to process information.  When the timing factor is removed from formal assessments, women do well. 

So what can teachers do to close the wide gap in academic success here?  Encourage girls equally with boys to hone math skills.  Educational equity is still a priority here--equal attention and support must be available for both.  Bring in successful women mentors in math dominated fields to serve as role models.  Tie math to the real world at every opportunity.  Expose them to math at the earliest age possible and continue doing so throughout their 12 years in school. 

Let the 21st century be the one where women have the same opportunities to enter careers of math and science that men do.

Denise

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