Math gender gap is not genetic

Or to put it more accurately, yet another study seems to show that girls learn from their teachers, parents, and peers that they are not supposed to be good at math. Sterotypes can be fulfilled. Pleas stop doing that, everyone.

Here is some press on this story.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers continue to find evidence that shows there is no innate difference in the math ability of males and females.

"There is a persistent stereotype that girls and women are just not as good at math as boys and men," said UW-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde. "And the data we have indicates that's just not true. I really think it's important to get that word out and to chip away at that myth."

Hyde and Janet Mertz, UW-Madison professor of oncology, co-authored an analysis of data compiled on math performance at all levels in the United States and abroad. The report, titled "Gender, Culture and Mathematics Performance," was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I hope to eventually read the actual study. I'll get back to you on that.

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It would be nice if girls were as encouraged as boys in math & science. I hope the gap will thin out in the generation growing up now, given (hopefully) the heightened awareness of this.

When my mother entered high school in the late 1940s (Rosemead High, Los Angeles County), the geometry teacher apologized to the class on the first day for being forced to have girls in a math class, even though girls are incapable of learning math and it would be just a waste of time for him and them to try to teach them. So he had all the boys sit in a circle on one side of the class, the girls on the other, and only taught the boys, telling the girls to do whatever reading or needlework they wanted to do on the other side. IIRC he didn't even issue them textbooks. Halfway through the year he finally got a teacher's aide who did what he could to try to catch the girls up to the rest of the class, but the teacher was still able to point to the fact that the boys did better on the final than the girls as "proof" that he was right.

I'm always surprised when I hear the whole "girls suck at math" thing. In my own school days, the people who were consistently at the top of the (math) class were the girls. I actually used to think that girls must be smarter at math because they always did better than I. Then I realized I was just lazy and never did my homework.