Had to write about an article I read in my local paper, on Friday. The article was from the Associated Press but there is a whole lot of buzz online about the study it refers to - that being girls and math. And for good reason. Until this study, it has been reported over and over that girls excel in math (not saying they are better, just that they are good at it) up to about ages 12-14. That's when their hormones kick in and to date, girls have pulled back in order not to seem "too smart" to the boys they want to attract.
The "hormones make girls less smart" argument has always annoyed me. It didn't make ME less smart (ok...open honesty here - I hate math, I can add two and two, but I don't reconcile my checkbook, or whatever it is you do with your checkbook, and I refer all financial issues at work to my partner; but I do review them)...and being a teenaged girl did not put a dent in the IQs of my daughters. Both excel in everything, but especially math.
"I always liked math," says Maggie, my middle child. "Math is black and white. There's a right answer or a wrong answer, no gray areas." Today she's working on her PhD in Epidemiology and Community Health, in Buffalo. Math is a necessity for her.
But, I can see how girls who are eager to be pretty and popular and who want a great guy to take them to the prom might supress their IQ. If their football playing target is worried about his date upstaging him.
It is encouraging to see that now...finally, we're hearing that girls are NOT falling behind boys when they hit puberty. In the article, and in numerous other reportings of the study online, we learn that girls maintain their math skills "through 11th grade."
The grade-level seems strange when you realize, via these articles, that there are more women in college overall, today, than men, overall. That was true four years ago, when I reported on the fact that more women were studying to be lawyers and doctors. Apparently, the news has hit mainstream, and girls are entering college, and tackling math, more confidently than ever before. I know that my oldest, Chloe, found math useful, back in high school. So much so that she became a bookkeeper and started her own business (she helps me with my bookkeeping on occasion, and is not always very patient; sad to say her mother doesn't remember everything the daughter advises her to do, prompting, "Mom, listen to me...do this..." sometimes impatiently because...well...she has clients to attend to; that's why I often just give the phone to Tom...).
"So far," the article concludes, "while her current career choices include baby doctor and veterinarian, and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, too, Barbie (that bastion of the nursery for girls ages 3 -10, I guess) has not branched out into technology or engineering."
Hmmm...wouldn't the ladies of the net be interested to hear about that?
I wonder if the American Girl Dolls have a penchant for math?