wrath of the math

when i was a schoolgirl, the assumption was that math & science were masculine subjects, and arts & humanities were feminine subjects. mom was an english teacher, and dad was a stockbroker so what i saw at home tended to reinforce this social and intellectual stereotype. and though i was always a star in my english classes and struggled more with math, the fact remained that i consistently tested higher on math in the standardized tests they gave us each year, leading up to and including the sat’s.

in my adult career, i deal with both words and numbers. when it comes to numbers, the concepts of order and purity appeal to me. as time has gone on, though, i’ve learned that even with numbers, there’s often much more to the story than meets the eye. another thing i’ve learned is that people put a whole crazy mystique around numbers, like they are super complicated. yeah, there are some tough concepts that i really don’t get, but the basics are just that — basics.

to invoke a cliche, it’s not rocket science… this business stuff. it’s really simple math. i wish more girls would get that message: that the world of math is as available to them as it is to their brothers. winnie cooper also wants to get this message out, and she’s written a book to advance the cause. go winnie!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “wrath of the math

  1. This is a really great point. I am STILL terrified of all things mathy, but what I didn’t learn until my twenties (when I got my brain tested 50 ways from Sunday) is that there’s actually no reason why I should be bad at math. I should, in fact, be above average. The problem with my brain is, I’m vastly better at verbal stuff, so when the non-verbal stuff doesn’t come anywhere near as fast as the wordy stuff, I just tell myself I’m an idiot and give up. If I had a little more patience with myself, however, I could easily get the math right. Or so the, uh, numbers suggest.

    So yeah, I totally believe that lack of math skillz can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially for girls. And I love that Winnie Cooper’s a math genius.

  2. oh kate, u = brill all the live long day, math skillz or no.

    totally unrelated thought, but THE WONDER YEARS was such a spectacular show. i never missed an episode.

    i so identified with kevin, and his crush on winnie perfectly captured the innocent, pre-pubescent conceptions of love and desire.

    a few years later the edgier freaks and geeks had some of the same spirit and i worshipped that show too. watched it late in the game, years after it was canceled, courtesy of netflix.

  3. I’ve always felt so restricted about not doing the math thing. I was a math star in the beginning of high school and when I actually do my homework I do really well in math. I even tested higher on the SAT’s in math, still people assume that because I can write well and draw well and sing well AND most importantly BECAUSE I’M A GIRL somehow I can’t do math well too. My parents (good people, but tied to gender roles) just always assumed I was not as good at math as English despite performing well in math. Somehow my brother who got C’s in math was supposedly really good at math, while I got A’s and I wasn’t that good at it. In college I’ve been discouraged from pursuing anything math or science related for some reason. Oh well, I guess I’ll just go back to my little GIRL box and live out my life in pumps and pearls while vacuuming the house! haha. NOT!

  4. sara

    I believe you and I shared a math class in those formative 7th and 8th grade years. (Was it Berman and Nickles?) I was tortured by both teachers both years when they basically told me I was math dumb. It has stuck and to this day.

  5. col

    Oh yes, Ralph Nickles. He was scary. He used to throw chalk at us — remember? He totally favored the boys, especially if they played football. I actually got off easy with him because Brian played football (nepotism pays).

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