×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Study Concludes Math Gender Gap Is Cultural, Not Biological

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the nice-to-see-non-paywalled-articles dept.

Math 472

New submitter germansausage writes "A new study was published today in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, looking at data from 86 countries, to test the 'greater male variability hypothesis' as the primary reason for the scarcity of outstanding women mathematicians. It concludes that cultural and not biological factors are the chief causes (PDF) of the gap in math skills between men and women."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

472 comments

The way things are supposed to be. (-1, Troll)

Pastor Jake (2510522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357050)

My Christian Comrades,

The Lord tells us that wives should submit to their husbands, and He granted men their greater ability to do math and science to help enforce this view. All of the neo-Nazi bra-burning feminists who wish to bridge this so-called "gap" are merely trying to undermine the Christian values of our nation. This is the way things are supposed to be, so there is no "gap."

Sincerely,
Jake

Re: The way things are supposed to be. (5, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357478)

My Christian Comrades,

The Lord tells us that wives should submit to their husbands, and He granted men their greater ability to do math and science to help enforce this view. All of the neo-Nazi bra-burning feminists who wish to bridge this so-called "gap" are merely trying to undermine the Christian values of our nation. This is the way things are supposed to be, so there is no "gap."

Sincerely, Jake

My Fellow Mathematicians,

The Calculus tells us that The Numbers should submit to their domains, and It granted mathematicians their greater ability to do math and science to help enforce this view. All of the neo-Nazi math-burning Luddites who wish to bridge this so-called "gap" are merely trying to undermine the Mathematical values of our scientific establishment. This is the way things are supposed to be, so there is no "gap.", other than the gaps between prime numbers.

Sincerely, The Troll Feeder

PS: I was going to find something witty about the bible calling pi = 3, but then I learned something new today :) http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm [purplemath.com] (cool stuff for math history geeks!)

Re: The way things are supposed to be. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357852)

That's saving the phenomenon - he chooses the outer diameter, but the inner circumference.

Math is hard (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357060)

In America, Math is hard.. so lets go shopping.

Re:Math is hard (5, Insightful)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357162)

Boy's toys: Square jaws and guns.

Girl's toys: Plastic tits and the phrase "Math class is tough!"

I still haven't figured out whether dysfunctional society caused the toys or dysfunctional toys caused the society, though.

Re:Math is hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357920)

I don't get it...

Most of the time the girls were smarter/better at math in my elementary and high school courses. And when I hit university, dammmmn, the physics and chem women could do some badass math.

I'm Canadian though ... maybe the divide between the sexes isn't as big up here?

Just ask a Scotsman... (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357066)

Wearing skirts is also cultural, not biological

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (4, Informative)

oPless (63249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357220)

Ask any Scot.

A Kilt is NOT a skirt.

The best explanation I've found online is the marked answer here:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111013145703AAO6AEd [yahoo.com]

A kilt is a made to measure garment that is specifically designed to fit a man's anatomy, and as such it is usually very unflattering to a woman's figure.

A kilt has eight yards of material, most of which is taken up in the pleats, there are very few women who would want to carry so much weight in a skirt.

A kilt fastens on the right hand side, whereas a woman's skirt usually closes on the left.

Traditionally kilts may only be worn by men and boys, but nowadays many women like to wear tartan skirts, which are sometimes called kilted skirts.

The only women I know of who wear traditional kilts, are those who play in a pipe band, they also wear the kilt so as to keep the entire band uniform.

Many Scots especially the traditionalists, will take great offense if you call their kilt a skirt, as they see the kilt as their national dress, as indeed it is, and they are rightly very proud of it.

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357354)

Scots can wear their national dress, but I'll stick to my national pants and national shirt

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (5, Funny)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357442)

So, my friend Adam and I are standing in line at the check-out counter. Adam likes to wear kilts. The little girl in front of us points at him and says to her mother, "Look, Mommy! That man is wearing a dress!" The lady responded to her daughter, "No, Sweetie, he's wearing a kilt."

"Mommy...What's a kilt?"

"It's a dress for men."

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357480)

So the lady in the story doesn't know the difference between a dress and a skirt?

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357526)

Ask any Scot.

A Kilt is NOT a skirt.

And any set theorist will reply:
A kilt is a member of the subset of skirts designed to be worn by men.

It's culture shock that makes the scots touchy about the "skirt" issue (namely they're defensive about their traditional man's war uniform being called "girly").

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357694)

I don't know. Saying it isn't a skirt because it has 8+ yards of material seems pretty weak to me. Are hoop skirts not skirts?

Also saying that it's not a skirt because women don't wear them, except when they do...

From what I can tell they're not "skirts" because the Scots don't want them to be called skirts.

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357948)

Actually, I'm a reasonable approximation of a Scotsman by heritage, although 3rd generation in Canada.

I have a kilt-like garment. It's not a True Scotsman's Kilt with the 9 yards of wool; it wraps around my waist once, like a skirt. It looks like a kilt, it wears like a kilt, but it was so much cheaper than a real one. It was free!

My dad ordered one, they sent the wrong size and it was damaged. They told him to keep it, it wasn't worth the shipping to return it. It happened to be my size. I've worn it to Robbie Burns nights, formal banquets, etc. It's great.

And that is the story of how the [Beardos] got their family kilt. Much better than the usual, which is "arbitrarily assigned by the English in the 1800s".

catholic school girls FTW (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357730)

I've seen the catholic school girls in those short kilts, they fit the female anatomy quite nicely. Much better than the male anatomy.

Re:Just ask a Scotsman... (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357904)

Ask any Scot.

Hello.

Many Scots [...] will take great offense

Many short men with a deeply ingrained inferiority complex will take great offence at a lot of things, but the way to deal with that is to pat them on the head and say "Calm down, little fellow, it's a perfectly fetching skirt and very flattering with your figure" not to take their angry rantings seriously. It just encourages them.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357086)

You would have thought insight just from trans-people's experiences would have been enough to make this blatantly obvious.
I guess they're just too weird to consider.

Re:Duh (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357310)

You would have thought insight just from trans-people's experiences would have been enough to make this blatantly obvious.
I guess they're just too weird to consider.

Let's consider this .. the culture of acquiescence. Someone says, "Math is hard." Others who are struggling with math hear that statement and accept the reason they struggle is because math is hard, therefore failure (or accepting less than the best one can do) is allowable. So people sell themselves short, buying into the cultural belief that math is hard and only super intelligent beings (or geeks) get it, and since they are neither they focus their energies elsewhere.

Math isn't hard. It's easy. It's amazingly easy. What's hard is breaking through from simply memorising tons of details (which is rather difficult) to comprehension. Once you comprehend and begin thinking in a mathematical view, it's another language and a rather simple one at that (try learning French, with all those blasted dialects!)

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357394)

Uh, what? How on earth did anything that you say have relevance to my (the parent's) point?
I was saying that there is a wealth of evidence in trans people that technical or mathematical aptitude does not diminish over the course of their transition (though areas of interest may change), disproving the presumption that technical or mathematical aptitude is biologically determined.

Re:Duh (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357560)

Uh, what? How on earth did anything that you say have relevance to my (the parent's) point?
I was saying that there is a wealth of evidence in trans people that technical or mathematical aptitude does not diminish over the course of their transition (though areas of interest may change), disproving the presumption that technical or mathematical aptitude is biologically determined.

A wealth of evidence - anecdotal. Actual studies (even before this one) have highlighted this trend. Cultural, certainly - gender roles/expectations, some externally imposed, some imposed by the self. But as I said - there's a culture of acquiescence. Consider the Curse of Beauty or old saying 'Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses', so culturally some girls will shy away from maths and sciences (or hide their ability.)

Re:Duh (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357610)

Alternatively it disproves that the transition is anything more then 'surface details'.

Old, old old joke.

A dude goes to his high school reunion, and to his shock finds that his best buddy from back then is now a he/she.

After getting over the shock he becomes curious and asks what the most painful part of the transition was.

Was it the surgery, with all the chopping, slicing and stuffing? No. That was painful but not the most painful part.

Was it the long course of hormone shots? No. The wasn't that painful at all.

Was it the psychological counseling, all that talk and painful memories? No. That was painful but not the most painful part.

What was the most painful part?

When they took the long needle, stuck it in my head and sucked out half my brains.

Re:Duh (2)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357464)

French is easy, man. Just replace the second half of an English word with "hohohoho" and you're there.

Re:Duh (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357486)

The same can be said for any field. Medicine isn't hard once you get past all those blasted details... programming isn't hard once you get past all the memorizing of syntax... learning a new language isn't hard if you just apply yourself... Once you understand the basics of pretty much any field it becomes easy.

Re:Duh (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357728)

So what you're saying is that once you've mastered all of the hard parts, Math is easy. That's good to know.

Still readying the artical but... (4, Interesting)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357094)

I have seen an interesting counter argument to this.

It states that females are biologically equal to males in maths abilities, but superior to men in language ability. It this is true, men would tend to crowd into math heavy fields (Since they have a natural advantage there) while females would be more widely spread out.

Which is not exactly true. In rich worlds 80% of woman pile into 10 of the 120 job categories (Medicine, teaching, public service) while men are more evenly spread out.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (4, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357120)

In rich worlds 80% of woman pile into 10 of the 120 job categories (Medicine, teaching, public service) while men are more evenly spread out.

Which is also cultural.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357404)

In rich worlds 80% of woman pile into 10 of the 120 job categories (Medicine, teaching, public service) while men are more evenly spread out.

Which is also cultural.

Traditional roles take a while to break down. About 100 years ago it was scandalous to even consider a woman going through medical school or writing a scientific thesis. Even in the 1950's the prevailing view among Sci-Fi audience was women were incapable of writing Science Fiction, so we had writers like "James Tiptree, Jr." Women were directed towards nurturing roles, so they could be good mothers when they married and retired from their profession.

Not quite the same today. I've worked with DBAs, Business Analysts and coders who are female. Highly competent professionals for the most part. Glad they didn't settle for less.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357222)

In the rich world, women it was taboo for women to enter the work force until recent history. Even then, the "accepted" number of job categories is less than those for men.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357362)

In the rich world, women it was taboo for women to enter the work force until recent history.

Other than being complete nonsense, that's perfectly correct. Women have had to work through most of human history, unless they had rich parents.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (3, Interesting)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357224)

I remember seeing a comparison between regular and home schooling with regards to boys and girls reading ability. The regular schooling had the reading gap, but the home schooled kids did not have a gap. This was a few years ago and I don't remember particulars, unfortunately.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (5, Interesting)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357264)

I find it interesting how many people are apparently completely willing to accept that women's superiority in language ability is biological.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (5, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357302)

I find it interesting how many people are apparently completely willing to accept that women's superiority in language ability is biological.

Nah. It's only better because they get lots more practice.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357346)

And would gender discrimination be acceptable if it was true? The majority of the population needs a leg up, after all.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357764)

I find it interesting how many people are apparently completely willing to accept that women's superiority in language ability is biological.

Men and women are not biologically the same, obviously. There is far more too it than what is between your legs though. Men produce more hormones that encourage competitiveness, women produce more that encourage nurturing. This is not unsurprising since natural selection favours men who have as many partners as possible and can protect them from harm, and women who are able to form strong relationships with strong men and their offspring.

A lot of people seem to think that feminism is arguing that men and women are the same, but that is wrong. Feminism merely argues that men and women are of equal worth, that they both have equally valuable roles on society. The fact that historically the role of women and home makers and mothers has been seen as less important that earning a wage is the cultural bias, not the idea that men and women are different which is a simple fact.

To give an example there was a programme on the radio about female surgeons finding it hard to get into the field. One of the major problems was that they were expected to be just like the male surgeons, available at all hours and largely free of other commitments. Since it takes a long time to become a surgeon and reproduction becomes increasingly difficult as women age they were finding that having a family life and a lack of day-care facilities as hospitals was a problem. We should value female surgeons equally and make an effort to support their needs which are different to male surgeon's, rather than expect them to be just like men.

Of course gender is not a clear cut thing and there are men who excel in things that women have some natural tendency to be better at and vice versa, but I don't think maths is one of them.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357914)

Support their needs by allowing them to not work as many hours and be available as much? Sure, but they will get paid less, which is also another equality complaint of women. Expecting women surgeons to get paid the same, have the same employment success, but not work as much is completely unfair.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (2, Informative)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357472)

'spread out' is actually a key word here.

I can not recall where I had found it, but a while back I saw a piece breaking down math and language skills by sex. What it actually came down to was a pair of overlapping bell curves. In the past it was assumed the peaks were at differnt places, with males and females 'mostly' in the same space but not quite. Turns out the peaks were actually around the same spot, but with males being more 'spread out'.. so more high scores but a similiar number of low scores.

Within our culture, we tend to pay attention to the high scoring males and ignore the low scoring ones, giving the impression that males are 'better at math'. Similarly we tend to pay attention to the low scoring language males and ignore the high scoring ones, giving the impression that females are 'better at language'.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357536)

Interesting, but you can't make a counter argument to something that isn't an argument. These guys actually did some research.

Re:Still readying the artical but... (1)

willy_me (212994) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357706)

I think it has more to do with testosterone. Men are biologically driven to compete. Becoming the alpha male is of great importance to humans - and many other species as well.

The difference between math and other subjects is that it is very easy to measure and rate the level of proficiency one has - especially in elementary school. This makes it easier to compete against one's piers in math then other subjects. And due to their competitive nature, men will invest more time and energy into the subject at the expense of other subjects.

Funny when you think about it. It is the need for self gratification that drives men into math over other subjects. We truly are beasts...

Math Study (5, Interesting)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357122)

I worked on a grant looking at math skills and correlating with language, gender, age, and other factors amongst three population groups (white, hispanic, and navaho). We followed a group of third graders through the fifth grade, and a group of sixth graders through the eighth grade. Very interesting stuff, and at least in my corner of the US it was very obvious that as students moved on in school they liked math less, felt it had less value, and also performed worse on the tests. In the third grade group almost everyone believed that math was important, that they would use it in their jobs, and stated that they liked math. By the eighth grade only a few still felt this way, and of those almost all were boys. I was the programmer, created the test instruments, database for the results, etc, so I never saw the entire set of results, but heard that the young cohort pretty much proved that there was very little gender or cultural bias against math aside from poverty (which interestingly seemed to indicate a dislike of it).

Re:Math Study (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357180)

the young cohort pretty much proved

Right, and no gender-specific changes occur after third grade? FAIL.

Re:Math Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357336)

third graders through the fifth grade, and a group of sixth graders through the eighth grade

Learn to read, n00b

Re:Math Study (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357412)

In the third - fifth grade the kids were learning addition and subtraction, key tasks for everyone in all jobs. If you buy or sell anything, even groceries, you need and use those skills every day.

In the 8th grade, they have gone beyond + and -. Multiplication and division are still helpful, but not absolutely necessary for everyday life. By the time you get to algebra and calculus, we are teaching skills that the majority of jobs don't need.

So most of those kids were RIGHT - they did not end up using it in their job.

That said, I never thought the "you will need it to work" was a good idea. I don't need to know history to do my job but I need to know it.

Education is not about preparing you to work. That is what a trade school does. Education is about preparing you to LIVE. And math is just as important, if not more so, as history, reading, writing, etc.

< sarcasm@gt; For example, people that actually know math laugh at the idea of balancing the budget without raising taxes.< / sarcasm >

Causative or correlation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357142)

Proof please.

But is interest in math biological? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357226)

I was in a high-level math class in 8th class that had just as many girls as boys, and many of the girls were very good. By my senior year in high school, most of the girls were no longer in the highest level math class offered, or if they were they had mediocre scores. In college, there were very few girls going towards math or engineering majors. The ones in my engineering classes generally just never seemed interested in learning the material or excited about the field, but they had decided it was what they were "good" at and could make a good career at. Many of the guys were the same way, but a substantial number of us really did take a interest in learning and doing the projects. I don't know if this "interest" gap is cultural or biological, but if you look at how you children are drawn towards different toys and behavior based on gender, I would say there is still a biologic component here that this study is missing.

And what might influence culture? (4, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357262)

Biology influences culture. DNA makes our brains, with well-proven gender differences, and our brains lead to our culture. Our culture is created directly by our brains, and also by the interaction with other people (brains).

Re:And what might influence culture? (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357414)

Pretty much. Jewish people started out with massive poverty and discrimination, but worked their way to the top of the finance chain. Other minorities just become mired in a "self-defeating culture" that they create for themselves.

Also this study contradicts every other study that's ever been done on this topic. It will need to be peer reviewed.

Re:And what might influence culture? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357720)

Pretty much. Jewish people started out with massive poverty and discrimination, but worked their way to the top of the finance chain.

Well, it helps that other cultures were viewing money as evil at the time. Part of the anti-Jewish argument in the Spanish Inquisition was that the Jews controlled all the money, yet the Christian church was teaching that money was evil, and that a good Christian wouldn't work in finance.

Gap created, gap exploited. Point Jews.

Re:And what might influence culture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357900)

Not to mention the inquisition had no authority on non christians.

Re:And what might influence culture? (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357426)

If I decide to jump off a cliff it was my brain that did it, but halfway down my brain doesn't really have any say anymore what happens. Culture is like gravity.

Re:And what might influence culture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357476)

True to a (very limited) point, but a culture in which women are worst at math is quite clearly not a definite result from the genes, but a result from somtehing which formed as an adaptation to the outside world. In other words, it's much more complicated than that. You might as well say women are worst at math because of the fine structure constant. It's true to a point, but only in some places an times (cultures), and it's always more complicated than that

Re:And what might influence culture? (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357500)

Do you really think the scientist involved in the study didn't think of that? (hint: read number 43 on their citation list). Come on.

Briefly, biology is what comes from your genetics. It's a product of your mother and father.
Culture is a worldview that you pick up from the people you hang around.

In 16th century France, brutal monarchy was perfectly acceptable. In 21st century France, democracy is the worldview, and no one would accept an absolute king. The genetics didn't change much but the culture changed.

More to the point, they have two reasons to believe that culture is what is making the difference. First, as culture has changed in the US, more women are being drawn towards mathematics. Second, in some places that are culturally different than the US, women even do better than men at math and science.

Please read the study next time, you'll be informed which will keep you from making idiotic comments.

Re:And what might influence culture? (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357702)

Did your brain write that response for you?

People create cultures not their brains, or their feet for that matter.

Your brain, DNA, genes, etc. allow you to function but they don't do anything.

Your brain didn't write that response (or impact our culture) any more than your genes did.

You (a person) wrote it. Just like we (a people) make a culture; not our brains (or feet).

Re:And what might influence culture? (2)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357868)

Very true. One theory that I like is that, in early human groups, men were the hunters while women were the gatherers. Biologically, this makes sense, because men are a bit more expendable and gathering is amenable to child rearing. One good piece of evidence for this is that ~10% of men have a color deficiency (e.g., instead of RGB vision, it's GB), while ~2-% of women have tetrachromacy (RGGB). The former is advantageous for seeing through typical camouflage, while the latter is useful for distinguishing plants and fruit (and a lime green VS spring green shirt).

Re:And what might influence culture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357880)

Bingo. This study, although interesting, is drawing a ton of unwarranted conclusions, and says nothing about the dominant role of culture versus biology in determining gender differences.

For example, from one perspective, their study could be seen as strongly supporting a biological influence on gender differences. If I'm remembering correctly (I did some quick calculations earlier on a different computer), in 4 of their 26 variance ratios from the most recent data in the oldest group (just to pick one), females exhibited equal or greater variance than males; in 2 of 26 variance ratios, the female variance was less. The probability of this occurring if the overall variances were equal is less than .001 and 10^-5 respectively. They also acknowledge that the correlation between gender difference and variance ratio was .79, which is pretty large.

It's hard to look at their results and not see a dominant trend across cultures: males perform better on the tests, and exhibit greater variability. There are exceptions in some locations, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

It's obvious that cultural factors influence this gender difference, and their study suggests ways to reduce it. It's valuable in that regard. But it's ridiculous to somehow conclude that culture is the dominant influence on gender differences from their results.

I'm getting sick of this idea that if culture and biology are mutually exclusive, or that showing any form of influence from one means the other doesn't exist. It's like saying that "culture influences diet, therefore genetic influences on individual differences in dietary effects do not exist."

Math Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357276)

Well, unfortunaly this "study" use statistc to prove the hypothesis and by experience you can manipulate any result you want to prove your point. Politician and ONGs know very well about this methods XP. ... and before I'm accused to be a "male chauvinist pig", I don't think its bad to men and women have same math skills, but I hate "bad science".

Re:Math Misleading (2)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357504)

So... any science that uses statistics is automatically bad science? That kinda rules out, well.. science.

Re:Math Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357838)

Science can't rely on just statistics. In order to say something is cultural and not biological, there needs to be a mechanism for this. If you cannot establish this, then it's not science. It's just pulling shit out of your as. Science requires models and a bunch of statistics is not a model.

Lets do some math in my room (5, Funny)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357290)

What do you say we go back to my room and do some math: add you and me, subtract our clothes, divide your legs, and multiply.

Re:Lets do some math in my room (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357726)

Haha... Mod parent up you retards.

Interest in math (1)

bigmattana (646048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357308)

I was in a high-level math class in 8th grade that had just as many girls as boys, and many of the girls were very good. By my senior year in high school, most of the girls were no longer in the highest level math class offered, or if they were they had mediocre scores. I'm am sure much if this was cultural, but I believe by the time the girls got into high school they started focusing on the areas that interested them more. They graduated with high grades and were very capable to do any subject the school offered, but they pursued other AP classes.

  In college, there were very few girls going towards math or engineering majors. The ones in my engineering classes generally just never seemed interested in learning the material or excited about the field, but they had decided it was what they were "good" at and could make a good career at. Many of the guys were the same way, but a substantial number of us really did take a interest in learning and doing the projects. I don't know if this "interest" gap is cultural or biological, but if you look at how you children are drawn towards different toys and behavior based on gender, I would say there is still a biologic component here that this study is missing.

(Sorry for re-post, forgot to log in)

Finally (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357316)

A lot of facts that are chalked up to the effects of prejudice, or racial differences are far more likely to be due to cultural differences.

The effect of cultural differences as a factor in gender gaps within professions, IQ/academic performance differences between races, etc seems to be relatively unexplored.

I really don't care (-1, Troll)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357326)

As long as the wife can remember to put 2 pies in the stove and 4 6-packs of beer in the fridge.

Re:I really don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357440)

Knock yourself out.

While you are drunk, I will be putting her feet above her head.

Re:I really don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357530)

It's a good thing she's cooking the pies since she'll probably know you would put pies in the oven and not on the stove if you want them baked properly.

Re:I really don't care (1, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357532)

Hopefully at least your wife knows the difference between a stove and oven. Cooking is hard...

publication bias is cultural, no biological (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357340)

Maybe true, maybe not, but what is certain is that a study that concluded the opposite probably wouldn't get published.

Men and women? (2)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357348)

Or boys and girls? And Mathematics..or Arithmetic?

If the differences were biological wouldn't one want to wait until key biological differences between men and women had settled out more, say..I don't know..puberty?

I don't know if the differences are biological or not, but reading through the study it seems a rather flawed basis to back the statement "Men aren't better than women at math, biologically".

There are 10 kind of people (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357372)

Those that understand ternary, those that don't, and women.

Re:There are 10 kind of people (-1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357438)

2 != 3, so your statement is false. You should have said there are 11 kinds of people.

Re:There are 10 kind of people (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357514)

um....Ternary..not binary . . . .

Re:There are 10 kind of people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357516)

2 != 3, so your statement is false. You should have said there are 11 kinds of people.

Ah, so you fit into that second category, then... and maybe also that third...

Re:There are 10 kind of people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357548)

heh, can't tell if you're purposely joking or completely fell for it.

Re:There are 10 kind of people (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357566)

So, you would fall into the category of "those those don't understand ternary".

Re:There are 10 kind of people (4, Informative)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357578)

2 != 3, so your statement is false. You should have said there are 11 kinds of people.

You failed to understand the joke. Assuming the number X uses the lexical base of Y, with Y being represented in base "ten", then (X)_Y (ie: "X" in base "Y"), then, (X)_Y = (10)_3 = "three to the first power". Therefore, gmuslera's joke means "there are three kind of people, those that understand ternary .... ". You either thought he/she meant "binary", or you don't understand ternary. Your joke "there are 11 kinds of people" would technically be correct, if the original joke referred to binary rather than ternary.

Re:There are 10 kind of people (1)

mishu2065 (1616553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357588)

Unless he was using modulo 3... then he would be right. The typo would still be there though. :)

Careful study by authors who've never met a woman (1, Insightful)

siphonophore (158996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357374)

I don't buy it.

Women are accepted to have biological tendencies for wider hips, more estrogen, more fat storage in the front-upper-torso region, smaller than males, etc.

Women are mostly accepted to have biological tendencies for more compassion, more communication, etc.

It is controversial to say women have biological tendencies to be less aggressive, less ambitious toward leadership roles, and less attracted to hard science in favor of humanities.

The difference between these three categories is hardly in their level of correlation (p approaches 1 for all of them), but in how PC they are. If it is cultural, as the authors suggest, they have stumbled upon the most effective population control mechanism in history!

(note: paper was slashdotted; i'm going by the summary and having waded through too many of these types of studies before)

Re:Careful study by authors who've never met a wom (2)

rackeer (1607869) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357734)

Well... you are right, partly, I think, in pointing out that there's still a lot of bullshit around. However, it is known that culture is, in fact, a very powerful mechanism (I think you can come up yourself with a bunch of examples). It is sometimes quite difficult to distinguish between cultural and biological factors, however, what is interesting in this study, I think, is that did an international comparison of boys vs girls' math scores and compared these to different socio-economic factors. I have to admit, I didn't take the time to read all of it, but they actually show a pretty convincing scatter plot between gender equality index and girls' math performance relative to boys'. If you don't look at anything else, look at that plot.

What about other factors that are different between genders?

I don't know about relative levels of aggression, I guess it is pretty much established that aggression level is at least partly determined by testosterone level and related hormones. An elevated level of aggression (btw, Lorenz defines aggression as social dominance behavior) would affect professional (or leadership) ambition, but I would guess that a lot of that (missing ambition) has to do with gender roles and legislation (parental leave, etc). Language ability? I think, somebody should do a study showing that the more time female caretakers spend with the child, the bigger the gender gap. Sounds like a challenge.

Re:Careful study by authors who've never met a wom (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357872)

It is controversial to say women have biological tendencies to be less aggressive, less ambitious toward leadership roles, and less attracted to hard science in favor of humanities.

These are predominantly due to women being less competitive and more cooperative than men. However, this is not guaranteed to be biological. All minorities ("minority" here referring to political and social power) group together in tight-nit groups, and are raised with a more cooperative attitude towards helping those in your group to protect your already limited power. Women are typically discouraged from showing direct or active roles, and thus become well trained in... for lack of a better word, "manipulative" and "coercion". (Guilt trips, implied requests actually being imperative statements, etc).

Meanwhile, in another culture, where the women sit around drink beer, spit, play poker, and leave their growing-old husband for the "newer model", women are brash, open, aggressive, competitive, and take strong leadership roles. Although, despite all of the swapping of cultural activities demonstrating what is linked to the gender of power, and the inferior gender (referring respectively to the gender with the political and social power, vs the one that does not) the men are still the ones who usually go out to get food, because they have a biological basis for greater strength and endurance. But of course, when the men fail to get enough food, ("because they're wimps") the women go out and catch food using their brains, demonstrating "why women are so much more powerful than men".

One day... (3, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357452)

When I have kids of my own, I'm raising them to be math and science nerds like the old man, especially any daughters.

Re:One day... (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357686)

When I have kids of my own, I'm raising them to be math and science nerds like the old man, especially any daughters.

My experience with this is you can control which opportunities they get, but they decide what they actually like. Don't turn in the math equivalent of the screaming sports parent.

Who could of guessed? (0)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357466)

Most intellectual gaps are the results of different culture and upbringing. ADHD and ADD is the result of kids playing video games 10 hours a day on their Nintendo DS.

The Foundations of this argument are absurd anyway (4, Interesting)

Xanny (2500844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357574)

I mean, there is this big cultural panic that women don't go into STEM and everyone wonders why. They point out that they are force fed dolls, and shows about mothering, princesses and other assorted crud, where boys are fed high strength stuff like GI Joe and Bob the Builder.

But that isnt the cause of the divide. The culture inside public schools is almost as immobile as governments, because the younger children adopt the values of the older ones to try to fit in, be cool, and seem more mature. The effect of peers on kids growing up has more profound effects than any specific media they are consuming - it is more a product of their behavior around one another than it is from what they watch on tv

I dont have any sources off the top of my head, but from other discussions on this topic, the general consensus is a home schooled boy and girl completely cut off from peer influence have absolutely no real discernible preference away from math, that statistically if you introduce math in interesting and purposeful ways, both of them can like it, and develop interests in it. There is no genetic or hormonal effect prohibiting either from developing a fascination with any particular field. So of course it is cultural, but I believe it is in the in-culture of public schooling, must less the culture of society as a whole, that keeps this problem from being dealt with.

Gonna get burned for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357600)

To be frank, in our culture we don't really encourage females to put much stock in rational thinking. Worse, it comes from all sides. Traditional conservative 'values' unashamedly discriminatory to the fairer sex. .. And from the left we have what we call feminism. For all the things that it is, good or bad, feminism is not what I'd call rational. I've hat plenty of discussions where self-described feminists reject formal, logical arguments as 'male' thinking and don't think women should be subject to it. I'm not sure what to think of it, but I know it /infuriates/ men that are a lot less forgiving than myself.

And if you don't like this study... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357796)

And if you don't like this study there will be another one published shortly.

Coming from a woman, I say no shit, Sherlock (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357798)

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I've gone to many conferences for women in advanced mathematics and computer sciences and the number one thing I notice is how international they all are... even when they are supposedly for US women. I've said for years that the proof that there is no gender gap can be seen by looking at the mathematicians coming out of the former Soviet republics. Plenty of those mathematicians are women and they don't understand why so few American women enter the field.

By contrast, growing up in the US, I remember the "advanced" math groups in elementary school being pretty evenly split across genders. The disparity started increasing in junior high and was readily apparent in high school... and it wasn't because the math got harder. Many of the girls who picked up algebra quicker than most of the boys in fifth grade were opting not to take AP Calculus because "it wasn't really necessary." By contrast, a lot of the guys in the calculus classes hadn't been in advanced math before, but were taking calculus because it was "required to get in to a good school." That's not a biological difference... it's cultural. We have to stop teaching our girls that it's okay to be bad at this stuff.

Meanwhile in countries that still DO math (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357946)

They think that women are for making babies and the poor and minorities are for sweeping up in kitchens. Maybe they know something that we don't? Perhaps they know to fund mathematicians to do maths, not sociology. Oh, the humanities.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...