Gender Inequity in the Math/Science Classrooms of AmericaPublished January 23, 2017
In the past, and even today, it is taken as almost axiomatic that men are better math and science students than women.
“Men are better math students, as a group, than women”. Almost all math teachers believe this and even some women math teachers have said this to me.
Why do I disagree with this position?
99% of all significant math being done in the world, is applied math. Any reasonably intelligent person can do applied math. Learning this application based math is fundamentally about a willingness to work hard.
Ms. A., a former student of mine, told me the following.
“There are people in my class who are smarter than me, they ‘get it’ from the just listening to the lectures. I have to study, go see the teaching assistant, visit the professor during their office hours for help.” But when I asked her how she was doing in this advanced calculus, she sheepishly stated she had the highest grade in the class.
How did she do this? She had a crushing ability to organize herself and out prepare her classmates. What counts in math, science and engineering classrooms is performance. What matters in the business world is performance. Women need to be equally encouraged by their teachers. From my experience in teaching math for 28 years, women/girls, as a group, are slightly better as math students, then the men/boys. If I had to choose a former student to represent my business in a project, I would almost always choose a woman. Women routinely bring better organization and relentless motivation.
The perception that math, information technology and science is a man’s domain is incorrect and corrosive. Parents and teachers need to energize their female students just as much as we motivate male students, to pursue degrees in engineering, computer technology and science.
It should always be about performance and not about gender, ever!