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Men And Women Think Women Are Bad At Basic Math

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the my-mom-makes-fun-of-me-for-sucking-at-diff-eq dept.

Math 384

sciencehabit writes "Think women can't do math? You're wrong — but new research (paywalled) shows you might not change your mind, even if you get evidence to the contrary. A study of how both men and women perceive each other's mathematical ability finds that an unconscious bias against women — by both men and women — could be skewing hiring decisions, widening the gender gap in mathematical professions like engineering."

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In my experience (4, Insightful)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about 7 months ago | (#46453513)

Women and men are equally bad at math. Specially at teaching math. It's not an easy subject and it's not a natural way to think about anything.

Re: In my experience (1)

kayaker01 (3569597) | about 7 months ago | (#46453525)

The older I become, the less significant difference I see between the sexes. Kinda sad?

Re: In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453575)

As the programs in our cells run out, even though the programs are "running" on perfectly equivalent and timeless atoms, we fall apart. What's sad is that very few people are interested in working out this complex system to see if we can extend our life. Nah, it's easier to rehash fifty year old space propaganda and play fireworks.

You know, for the species. The species that can't even add two numbers after 40. But hey, space posters!!!

Life extension is bad (3, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#46454191)

Until we come up with a solution to the difficulties posed by overpopulation and start living sustainably, life extension is probably a bad idea, it'll only aggravate some already major challenges:
Option 1) Life extension is expensive - it doesn't directly complicate population issues notably, but it keeps the same rich bastards unfamiliar with modern technology and carrying really old prejudices in power even longer, making adaptation more difficult
Option 2) Life extension is cheap - oops, now we've just aggravated the population explosion. Maybe it's only by another ten percent on top of the 40-70% coming out of Africa and Asia (who presumably mostly still won't be able to afford it), but that's still an extra billion people to deal with.

Re: In my experience (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 months ago | (#46453633)

The older I become, the less significant difference I see between the sexes. Kinda sad?

No, it just means you finally need glasses.

Re: In my experience (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 7 months ago | (#46453981)

*sigh*

This is what we get for letting them get out of the kitchen in the first place...

;)

It was my mom who taught me my basic math (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#46453549)

Yes, of all the people in the world, it was my mom who taught me basic math.

Without her, I wouldn't know how to count. I wouldn't know how to add, to subtract, to multiply and to divide.

Of course I did learn more advanced math in the school, but the foundation of my math was laid by my mom.

Thanks, mom !

Re:It was my mom who taught me my basic math (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453637)

Without her, I wouldn't know how to count. I wouldn't know how to add, to subtract, to multiply and to divide.

Amazing how sure you are that school could teach you 'more advanced math' but not simple Arithmetic. Still, lucky you to have a supermom who was the only being with the power to save you from a horrible fate of not EVER knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Re:It was my mom who taught me my basic math (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453767)

Um, Taco Cowboy is a Space Nutter completely convinced we're colonizing space. I wouldn't be too sure about his Mom's basic math skills. You need to be fairly irrational and ignore a lot of basic math and physics to believe space is anything more than a gaping void with a few communications satellites in it.

All my mom knows how to do is multiply... (4, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about 7 months ago | (#46453943)

All my mom knows how to do is multiply...but that is why I have seven siblings.

Re:It was my mom who taught me my basic math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453977)

Does your mom look like a giant flightless yellow bird [wikipedia.org] or a lavender vampire [wikipedia.org] ? Just asking...

Exactly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453993)

Exactly, the article is just perpetuating sexist nonsense IMHO.

Mothers (generally) run basic day to day accounts of family spending and one of my earliest memories of math is my mum calculating the family monthly expenditure.

Re:It was my mom who taught me my basic math (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454155)

I was laid by your mom too.

OOOOOH SICK BURN.

Re:In my experience (5, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 7 months ago | (#46453555)

My experience is that math gets easier the more you do it. In other words, practice makes perfect. I've also noticed that people who are inclined to accept "I am just not good at math" are less likely to put in the work and train their brains to think in math, and thus never learn it. I would not be surprised to find that the stuff the article talks about leads to more females taking that excuse and opting out of math rather than putting in the work.

Re:In my experience (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 7 months ago | (#46453645)

My experience is that math gets easier the more you do it. In other words, practice makes perfect.

My experience is that most people just don't have the aptitude for it, mainly because most people are unintelligent. Rote memorization is the best they can do, but at that point, you're not really doing math at all.

Re:In my experience (2)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#46453909)

Actually, you do learn math by rote memorization. Those of us who were interested in math from the beginning were training it all the time by playing around with numbers or geometrical objects, which is just rote memorization with spices on top. And you get really good at math by doing math chores all the time.

arithmetic is not math [Re:In my experience] (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453991)

Actually, you do learn math by rote memorization.

No, you learn arithmetic by rote memorization.

Arithmetic is to math roughly as learning to use a pencil to write letters is to literature: it is the objects that are used to do math. You can't write if you don't know the difference between a, b, and c; but knowing how to write legible a, b, and c is not "writing."

Those of us who were interested in math from the beginning were training it all the time by playing around with numbers or geometrical objects, which is just rote memorization with spices on top....

Indeed. You have to be comfortable with the basic objects you're using before you can have fun using them as building blocks.

Re:arithmetic is not math [Re:In my experience] (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#46454095)

No, not just arithmetic, you also learn algebra by rote memorization and constant exercise. With time this helps you to spot regularities and later you are able to see possible solutions in complex mathematical problems.

There are experiments about what helps pupils best to get better with mathematics, and it has been shown that drill and constant exercise is the most effective way, even for complexer mathematical problems.

Re:arithmetic is not math [Re:In my experience] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454173)

To continue a trend here, not just algebra but calculus as well.

Fuck, most of calculus is just applying a known pattern to a specific situation.

Re:arithmetic is not math [Re:In my experience] (4, Insightful)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 7 months ago | (#46454185)

There are experiments about what helps pupils best to get better with mathematics, and it has been shown that drill and constant exercise is the most effective way, even for complexer mathematical problems.

That's a great way to train drones who don't understand the how & why, but not a great way to make people truly understand mathematics. I do what I do because I love it, and any facts I memorize I memorize because I happen to see them often, not because forced me to sit around and work out pointless problems. That sort of thinking is why math education is so abysmal.

Re:In my experience (2)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 7 months ago | (#46454177)

Actually, you do learn math by rote memorization.

Using existing knowledge and forming conclusions about why it works is not the same as rote memorization, though you'll need to retain some information in order to do that. It seems you don't know what I'm talking about. [uottawa.ca]

It's a shame. Most people can't even identify the problem with math education, let alone think of a solution to fix it.

Re:In my experience (3, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46453773)

What always made math so hard for me weren't the concepts themselves, it was my speed at processing math problems in my head. If I could have had unlimited time, I could have scored an "A" on every test. Unfortunately, most math tests are time-limited and my speed at processing problems always seemed to lag behind everyone else, which left me a wreck on tests (but with an "A+" on every homework assignment). I could answer 20 questions perfectly in the time allotted, and not answer the next 20 questions at all; or I could rush through the test a nervous wreck and barely pass (obviously I chose the latter). When I finally was able to take some online math classes at my university, I went from struggling to get C's in my math courses to getting an A in every one (the tests for the online courses weren't timed).

So my suggestion is that, if you really want to see a jump in math skills, start placing more emphasis on learning the concepts and less emphasis on how fast students can process problems. Allow students unlimited time on tests if they want it (maybe give them the option of taking tests after school instead of in class). It will give a lot of students like me a lot more confidence in themselves once they realize that they're not fucking stupid or "just bad at math"--that they're just slower, more deliberate, and more thoughtful.

Re:In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453867)

A minor issue I see is that math builds on itself and if the simple questions take a while, the more advanced stuff will never happen.

Re:In my experience (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46453947)

Except over time, with practice, speed on the lower-level stuff does build. It's the new stuff that takes time to process.

Re:In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453831)

What you're missing is that excuse-making is part of the process of being inferior.

In other words, the physical outcome DOES reflect internal states. You're just making excuses since you can't accept the physical outcomes.

The world really DOES arrange itself in the only possible way, in Human terms. There's only one possible outcome since Humans only think one way. And when it changes, then it's still only one outcome. And the one outcome we're talking about here specifically is that women are bad at math, particularly higher math. That's what the physical facts say, and believing otherwise is pretty much like religion (i.e. not based on fact).

Re:In my experience (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46453927)

It's a western thing. Westerners think they are just not good at some things, and never will be. In the far east it is accepted that anyone can learn pretty much anything if they put in enough effort. Therefore saying "I'm not good at maths" in Japan or South Korea is actually saying "I'm too lazy to master this".

Of course they also have a lot of kids killing themselves due to the pressure, and some people do have genuine learning difficulties that they can't do anything about.

Re:In my experience (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 months ago | (#46453759)

Most people who are good at math also have very little ability to teach it, because it comes so naturally to them. Think about it this way. If you ask singers how to sing better, most of them would probably have no idea how to help you sing better, or what they were doing to make themselves sing so well. They just can, and they've been doing it since they were 3. Same goes for most people who are good at math. There are some people who are good at math who can also teach it, but I don't believe that the two skills are related in any way. Being extremely good at math might even be a hindrance. I know I tried to help a few friends in highschool with math, and I was very unsuccessful. I couldn't wrap my head around what people found so hard about basic algebra.

Re:In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453835)

In my experience women are actually *much* better at math than guys. However, my exp also shows they will throw a fit if they do not understand something. But that is a sample of 3 I have tried to teach math too. So that is a very low p level of confidence :)

Growing up all the dudes had C/D's the girls all had A/B's. So I am not sure where 'bad at math' comes from.

'Bad at math' is usually a way of saying 'this is hard and I dont want to do this anymore'. We teach math in an awful way then expect people to just understand. We at one point went with straight memorization but forgot to tell people why something works. It was not until I was in my upper level college classes that the teachers bothered to say why things worked the way they did. I went from a C student in math to an A student once I understood why. I pull the teacher to the side one day and said 'why didnt you tell us this in 3rd grade it would have made things a lot simpler instead of a huge jumble of formulas to remember here is a simple way to GET formulas'.

My wife claims she is 'bad at math'. Yet she is a freeking human calculator and can figure most math out to 3 to 4 decimal digits in her head. I can usually only best her on the calculator by a whisker but that is because I can type fast. I keep telling her she would crush calculus as a lot of math she learned would make a lot more sense.

Re:In my experience (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#46453913)

My wife claims she is 'bad at math'. Yet she is a freeking human calculator and can figure most math out to 3 to 4 decimal digits in her head.

No conundrum, no contradiction. She's good at arithmetic.

Participation awards for boys! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453519)

Because we all know that women are better than men at some things, but men are never better than women at anything.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453719)

Because we all know that women are better than men at some things, but men are never better than women at anything.

Umm, ever seen a woman load a dishwasher?

Re:Participation awards for boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453813)

I can not get it through my wife's head that there is a REASON for the way I pack so much stuff together. She is now (after 7 years) able to imitate my layouts, but if we were to suddenly have, say, 4 more dinner plates in the rotation, she'd be unable to come up with a new way of packing everything in.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453859)

Well, you can pack a lot more in a dishwasher if getting the stuff actually clean is not a priority.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (1)

myth24601 (893486) | about 7 months ago | (#46454147)

I can out dishwasher-pack my wife and get the stuff clean! While there may be some difference in the way we deal mentally with the challenge of fitting everything in that space, I think the bigger issue is that I am much more determined to not have to hand wash anything that I can't fit in there.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 7 months ago | (#46454129)

It's not how many dishes you can pack in there, it's how they are oriented inside the dishwasher that matters. Unless you have a newer model with 128 spray jets in every direction, your dishwasher's cleaning power is going to be based out of the center of the rack where the jet sprayers come from. Thus, for maximum cleanliness, everything should be placed inside oriented with the dirty surface facing toward the middle. Sure, you can pack more dishes in by sticking them in the optimized stacking pattern along the rows, but they're not going to get as clean.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453917)

As males are generally better at spatial tasks, men should be slightly better at loading a dishwasher compared to women.

Programmers should be significantly better than non-programmers since we know so many optimization algorithms.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (3, Funny)

myth24601 (893486) | about 7 months ago | (#46454151)

Men are better at avoiding work. If you can't pack it all in the dishwasher, you will have extra work to do when you hand wash what doesn't fit.

Re:Participation awards for boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453939)

If there was ever a time I needed mod points to mod someone up...

Re:Participation awards for boys! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453869)

How sexist of you! You must be a White Male Capitalist! You're automatically wrong about... WELL, ABOUT EVERYTHING!!!

> cryingbaby.jpg

Re:Participation awards for boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454051)

The best part about this conversation is that every single comment is made anonymously. But yes, when my wife loads the dishwasher it's little better than if she had just dumped the plates and bowls in randomly. There's a reason the rack is shaped the way it is...

Obligatory xkcd (1, Insightful)

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) | about 7 months ago | (#46453523)

Re:Obligatory xkcd (5, Funny)

retroworks (652802) | about 7 months ago | (#46453651)

Obligatory RTFA, (the comic is at the top of the second link)

Suck at maths....no arthimetic (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46453535)

What a shame that "ability at maths" is seen by TFA as the ability to "add up sets of two-digit numbers in a 4-minute math sprint".

Don't be so harsh ... (5, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#46453573)

I worked as a part time waiter while I was in college. One night I was waiting on a party of over 40 people (5 tables in all) and when I added up the final bill (it was in the '70s and there was no PC-based POS back then) manually (over 80 items in total, including drinks and desserts ) and handed it to the folks, an old guy looked at the bill and scolded me for "not doing it right".

I was right and he was wrong, but, as he was the customer, I couldn't tell him that his math sux, so I did the next best thing - I call the manager and let him add up the total bill.

It came up the same. (I did say I was right).

The moral of this story is ... don't be harsh.

Joe sixpacks don't do much math, and you don't get them to do extra-ordinary level of math without them feeling very sorry for themselves.

Re:Don't be so harsh ... (1)

axl917 (1542205) | about 7 months ago | (#46453751)

How is addition an "extra-ordinary level of math" ?

Re:Don't be so harsh ... (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 7 months ago | (#46454169)

Have you never heard of bistro-math, so powerful that it can run a spaceship?!

au contraire ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453541)

I remember reading somewhere that middle eastern women are better at Maths than middle eastern men, but who cares, just because someone is good at something it doesn't mean they want to pursue it as a career. Maybe women have other priorities than men, who would have guessed?

Human Nature (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46453557)

We frequently fall prey to these assumptions made under no particular scientific method. We begin raising our young with lessons disguised as fables.

Handing knowledge down through the years based on personal experience was once, and for many generations, the best way to save information. It is better than no system at all (we're talking pre-widespread literacy), but the risk of passing along stereotypes and prejudices certainly existed.

Re:Human Nature (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 months ago | (#46453647)

We frequently fall prey to these assumptions made under no particular scientific method.

Citation of reproducible study needed.

Re:Human Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453689)

Is it really needed? Do you have a study to back that up, huh? Huh???

Re:Human Nature (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46453725)

Why certainly, otherwise it's merely another unproven assumption.

Re:Human Nature (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 months ago | (#46453891)

Is it really needed? Do you have a study to back that up, huh? Huh???

Nope. My claim stands on a turtle.

Conflicting bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453973)

It really gets hard when you start comparing ability between white women and black men.

uhh (5, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#46453577)

Think women can't do math?

Hardly anyone thinks this because there is ample evidence to the contrary. Moreover, the average woman is probably about as good at math as the average man. But when you're hiring in a "mathematical profession" you're not looking at the entire population; you're looking at the set of men and women with relatively high mathematical ability. Within that set, at least in the United States, men outnumber women. This could very well be the result of socialization; I'm not necessarily arguing from physiology. But it's hard to argue with numbers [blogspot.com] . The ratio of men to women among the set of SAT takers with a perfect math score, after adjusting for the fact that more women than men take the SAT, is 2.5 to 1. So, all else being equal we should expect about 28% of engineers and mathematicians to be women. Interestingly, if you look at the percentage [ams.org] of Math Ph.D.s granted to U.S. citizens (in 2010) women earned exactly 28%. With respect to engineering and computer science, approximately 20% of bachelors degrees (in 2008) were granted to women, so there may be work to be done there. My guess is that this is due to the stereotypical reputations of CS/Engineering (bearded hackers with poor hygiene and huge egos) being less appealing to women than to men.

Re:uhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453685)

> Hardly anyone thinks this because there is ample evidence to the contrary.

I guess hardly any people believe in intelligent design and that Iraq was involved in 9/11, either.

Re:uhh (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#46453801)

There's isn't ample evidence to the contrary with respect to I.D. So, yeah. If you consider I.D. to be unscientific, e.g. untestable and/or unfalsifiable, then what sort of "evidence to the contrary" could possibly be given? Neither evidence that supports an old earth nor evidence that supports of the evolution of species necessarily contradicts I.D.

When it comes to women in math, most people have probably come into contact with a woman who was more mathematically gifted than they are. Or, at least, who was competent. In high school, at university, on the job, etc. So they have personal, experiential knowledge of the fact that some women, at least, can "do math". Even the most chauvinistic folks I've met don't argue women can't do math. They may argue men are, on average, better at math, or that women shouldn't do math (even when they have the ability to do so), but they rarely go so far as to make a blanket claim that no woman, ever, anywhere, can "do math". Probably because that claim is so trivially disproved.

Re:uhh (1)

u38cg (607297) | about 7 months ago | (#46453765)

But that's not the question. The question is, is that disparity natural or a result of social forces? More interesting would be a comparison of entry and exit points.

Re:uhh (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 months ago | (#46453995)

What's interesting is that if you talk about running or weight lifting, we've pretty much come to the conclusion that men are better simply because they are men, and it has nothing to do with socialization. We also pretty much know that certain races are better at sprinting (in general, not in every individual case) and it's simply by nature, and nothing to do with socialization or upbringing. However, if you start to talk about anything intellectual, it's quite taboo to say that it might be nature that is causing such large disparities between races or genders.

Re:uhh (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 7 months ago | (#46453823)

I often here people mention how they're bad at math, didn't do well at math in school, etc. It almost seems like a badge of honor. I hear it said with som pride. And you know what? Most of the time, when I hear it, it's a woman saying it. Men are often embarrassed to acknowledge that they're bad at math.

I don't think women are worse at it than men, at least by innate ability, but they don't seem to value it quite as much.

Almost certainly "the result of socialization" (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | about 7 months ago | (#46453847)

Compare with women and chess [scienceblogs.com] .

The model revealed that the greater proportion of male chess players accounts for a whopping 96% of the difference in ability between the two genders at the highest level of play. If more women took up chess, you’d see that difference close substantially. ... So why are there so few female chess grandmasters? Because fewer women play chess. It’s that simple. This overlooked fact accounts for so much of the observable differences that other possible explanations, be they biological, cultural or environmental, are just fighting for scraps at the table.

Re:Almost certainly "the result of socialization" (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 months ago | (#46454037)

Yes, but more women take the SAT than men, and yet the ratio of perfect math scores is 2:1 in favor of the men or 2.5:1 after adjusting for the fact that more women taken the test. Something's going on there. Maybe it's entirely socialization; I'm not discounting that possibility. But it's not that women are opting out of taking the SAT. It's also worth noting that the math on the SAT is not particularly advanced. So it's not that women's scores are suffering because they opt out of taking more advanced math classes in high school. That might be the case if we were talking about AP Calculus exam results, but IIRC the SAT only goes up to basic algebra and geometry, classes every student (usually) has to take in order to graduate.

Re:uhh (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453853)

My guess is that this is due to the stereotypical reputations of CS/Engineering (bearded hackers with poor hygiene and huge egos) being less appealing to women than to men.

You also have to take into account the much lower portion of the female population which is capable of growing a good beard. They may be self-selecting out of this profession due to a lack of capability in this area.

Both men and women are right (0)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 7 months ago | (#46453591)

I didn't even have to read the post to make the conclusion

Some women are _very_ bad (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453595)

My ex-girlfriend was once helped through a math problem by her teacher, and they figured out that the solution was the half of x, so the teacher told her to write that down.

She wrote down '/'.

Re:Some women are _very_ bad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453817)

My ex-girlfriend was once helped through a math problem by her teacher, and they figured out that the solution was the half of x, so the teacher told her to write that down.

She wrote down '/'.

WOW! I thought everyone knew half of X was >.

GIGO (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453603)

Your skill is based on your education and how much effort you put into it. I think the unconscious bias is more of a social thing. I don't think women have any less capacity for intellect, but I do think there is a large group of females out there who would rather post about drama and "OMG my new shoes" on facebook rather than focus on science and self improvement. It isn't that they can't. It's that society has molded a lot of them this way, and the stereotypes emerge.

More broad than just maths (1, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 7 months ago | (#46453605)

Men just don't trust that women can do something important right. This includes math problems, but also meeting an important deadline, hiring important people, or taking decisions.

I know this sounds like a troll post, but I am serious. The gender gap is not just a problem with maths, or because women get pregnant and care for a baby for several months. It is much broader, and women are indeed held back by men, because men prefer to stay in control in certain cases.

However, I think we should approach it from another perspective: Those in charge (in a company, government) don't trust many people to take important decisions or to do any calculations right. However, women are overrepresented in the group of people who are not trusted with these tasks, but men are present in that group too.

Re:More broad than just maths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453631)

That is right! Never trust a woman; she will f*ck you first chance she gets! (if you are lucky)

is it weird that I find the notion rediculous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453623)

I've never thought women are 'bad at math' or any other sort of difference that I hear proclaimed by one or two douches here and there. You know the type, the ones that parrot utter nonsense no matter what the topic, incapable of independant thought...I just tune them out.
full disclosure I should note that I live a pretty solitary lifestyle...

In the USA (3, Interesting)

Ateocinico (32734) | about 7 months ago | (#46453625)

In Venezuela women are perceived as better in math and sciences. And usually they are.

Re:In the USA (5, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about 7 months ago | (#46454067)

Are they better at the social sciences? Because the dudes you have in charge down there are total idiots.

Test Also Measures Confidence (3, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about 7 months ago | (#46453641)

In my experience, being a doofus does not significantly decrease mens self confidence. Employers tend to hire confidence, women tend to marry confidence. Any measure of "perceived ability" is measuring confidence. Male birds tend to puff their feathers out, and also to self report their superiority to mates, and if we can translate bird, no doubt the male peacocks report they are better at math.

Re:Test Also Measures Confidence (1)

martas (1439879) | about 7 months ago | (#46454135)

I was just thinking that. Perhaps part of the reason for the perceived difference in mathematical ability is that women are more willing to be honest about not understanding something? And being a PhD student in a highly mathematical field, let me assure you, most of the time none of us know what the fuck is going on, so pretending would make a big difference...

One bias frequently overlooked (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 months ago | (#46453661)

In the rush to kumbaya and make it out to be "the sisterhood versus the patriarchy," a lot of women and male feminists don't notice that there is a sizeable contingent of technically qualified women who by and large have little respect for most women. I saw this in college with the women who took CS seriously feeling like they had to work twice as hard because half of the girls were getting by, in their minds by "flipping their skirts and smiling the guys" to get them to do their work for them. A good friend of mine who was a mechanical engineering major observed the same thing in his department at a different university. In fact, our oldest female professor was notorious for being ruthless on the girls because she literally wanted to drive out any girl who had in her mind that women in CS should be allowed to get by in any fashion that even resembled "advancing on their backs."

So if anything, I would say be careful about letting female engineers interview other potential candidates unless they are known to be genuinely fair-minded. You very well may find that it's actually the women, not the men, who are discriminating.

Re:One bias frequently overlooked (1)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | about 7 months ago | (#46453745)

The thing about those kind of stereotypes is, just as TFA mentioned, women absorb them too. "Women are bad at math." "Women are catty with each other." And so on. When a woman buys into them, yet don't she doesn't see herself this way, she may consciously or unconsciously seeks to set herself apart and say "I'm not like other women!"

Then they become the person that a sexist guy cites as his "female friend" that backs up his sexist theories that get perpetuated to the next generation.

Re:One bias frequently overlooked (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 7 months ago | (#46453921)

I think what he's getting at is that women can be worse than men at judging other women. Effectively being MORE sexist in some effort to make sure only women who will make her proud can pass muster.

Personally, I'm [sub-consciously] nicer to pretty girls above a certain intelligence and meaner to pretty girls below a certain intelligence and have to consciously correct for it in the work place.

Re:One bias frequently overlooked (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454131)

A young man sits down at a bar, orders a glass of the strongest stuff they have. The old man next to him notices and asks if something is wrong. "I just don't understand women," he says, "they tell me one thing, expect me to do the opposite, and then just sulk around when I try to ask what I did wrong." The old man sits quietly for a few seconds then replies, "I've been around longer than you, and I don't understand women either. But I have noticed that women do understand women, and they hate each other. Maybe we're better off not understanding."

momkind is counting on us & we are won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453669)

when it all adds up tears & innocence are our real treasures & we're running low. never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to each other & our surroundings as opposed to some vdo presentation of how we are 'supposed' to be...

Lawrence Summers, save me! (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#46453681)

I could be that PERHAPS there IS a difference in some math skill between males and females?

I know it's heinously non-politically-correct to suggest that the sorts of hormonal variations that developmentally result in gross anatomical changes might actually have an impact on the subtle chemistry of brain development as well...we're perfectly willing to recognize that (speaking broadly) women are in fact better at multitasking or that men are better at 3d shape understanding. Is it impossible that there isn't actually some real difference in, say, instinctual math that vanishes in a focused, testing setting?

I'm 46; I've found over my life that often these sorts of 'common perceptions' commonly HAVE a kernel of truth in them. Often misapplied, misunderstood, or blown out of proportion, but nevertheless a root in fact.

I will say that I've far more often seen women spend 15 minutes trying to precisely divide a dinner tab more precisely than men, who'll tend instead to just throw down roughly their share plus some, even if that results in the wait staff getting a huge tip. I know that's not specifically a math skill, but it's one of those real-world anecdotes that feed this perception.

Re:Lawrence Summers, save me! (2)

u38cg (607297) | about 7 months ago | (#46453777)

Yeah, no-one is really arguing that these kind of differences cannot exist. The argument is, bring data. If you think there's a difference, go out and prove it.

Re:Lawrence Summers, save me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454073)

The difference is not hormonal or even physiological. Is simply passion and willingness to invest time and effort in a subject and the only difference between genders are the subjects. Thats all.

As a whole, women are less likely to pursuit math related careers, but the ones who do, perform well. Of course, they are underrepresented in the top tier performers (the ones pushing the boundaries of knowledge) but that mostly because of their relatively low numbers and side effects of other priorities (like maternity)

Re:Lawrence Summers, save me! (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 7 months ago | (#46454205)

Is it possible? Yes, anything is. But it's also not set in stone. While everyone assumes that men are better at spacial reasoning than women, I yawned my way through every spacial reasoning test they could throw at me when I was a kid and was declared gifted in spacial analysis, despite being female. (Probably why I enjoy hanging out in a relational database as an adult.) When we say "men are better at X" and "women are better at Y" it's all about averages.

It's because women's clothes lack pockets (4, Funny)

sandbagger (654585) | about 7 months ago | (#46453683)

If their clothes had pockets, they could carry money on their persons and get more counting practice in.

Pockets. Think about it.

Re:It's because women's clothes lack pockets (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453897)

If their clothes had pockets, they could carry money on their persons and get more counting practice in.

Pockets. Think about it.

So in nude communities, the women will be better at math?

Re:It's because women's clothes lack pockets (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 7 months ago | (#46454215)

I know this is a joke, but there is a huge amount of truth in this as well. The worst are the FAKE pockets. Why, why do they bother with going through this elaborate pocket charade?

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453693)

http://horaspoker.com

It's just cause they aren't runway ready (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 7 months ago | (#46453749)

If their not, they're naturally bad at most everything. Science: It's a Girl Thing ! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]
Put out by "Women in research and innovation"; saying if you ain't hot, how you gonna be good?

I do not think this is fully true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453799)

This is my observation from studying maths:

1. In general women are better than men. If you take a random woman and a random man, the woman will with big probability be better.

2. The most smart (read genious) are often men. It is not often you meet a genious so, most of the time the best bet is a woman if you need to pick someone good at maths.

Obviously. (4, Funny)

meglon (1001833) | about 7 months ago | (#46453851)

That's because men keep telling women that 4 inches is actually 8 inches.

Re:Obviously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454059)

Or maybe that hallway was never a place to throw a sausage

True Stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46453889)

I've seen in my family several instances of discouragement. (To a daughter) "You're like me, not good at math", (the daughter) "I don't like science, Math is too hard". Well I guess when you're told that, you just believe it.

I had to help my wife learn math when she was taking nursing and I can tell you she never considered herself good at math. Turns out she missed a few things in the beginning and since it builds on itself, couldn't learn the rest of it. Once I filled in the few holes she understood the rest just fine. She felt so empowered, she taught herself the rest in fact.

Math is not a novella, there's no story to be interested in. It's not an opinion that changes from person to person. And believe it or not it doesn't come naturally to most people. What it is though, is a tool. One that, with training and practice, can be very useful. It's not about being good at it. It's about being trained correctly. If once people are trained and can see the utility of this especially powerful too, someone decides they don't like it, well then I'll accept that they shouldn't go down that road. But if I see one more man tell his daughter she's no good at math so don't try, I'm going to give him an earful.

Nurse to coworker: "Can you do math?" (4, Interesting)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 7 months ago | (#46453893)

True story. I was at the doctors office yesterday. The female nurse assistant was getting blood pressure, weight, and height. 6" 7'.

"Hey Julie, can you do math?" she called to the receptionist.

I looked up at her. She repeated her question. I interjected "Huh?"

"Oh, well I need your height in inches." "Well it's 12 times 6 and add 7." "I know, but I don't do math."

"OK then, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, that's 5 feet, and one more makes 72, and then add 7."

She looked at me like I had two heads. Well I do, but you know what I mean.

"So that'd be seventy-nine, right?" She looked at me, I THINK she then looked at her friend for confirmation, and then wrote it down and said, "I never liked math in school. I even managed somehow to skip some of the mandatory classes." "I can tell", I thought.

I just shook my head, wondering if she was a nurse or an assistant. Or maybe an assistant's assistant.

Maybe she was new, maybe she was a temp, maybe it was just really a bad day. But I've never had someone who was so seemingly ?dumb? as she was. But she wasn't dumb, she just "didn't do math".

I'm not a PhD at all or theoretical physicist or anything, but I just can't imagine. "I don't do math" is just like "I don't do words" to me. I couldn't imagine life without either of them.

Re:Nurse to coworker: "Can you do math?" (2)

operagost (62405) | about 7 months ago | (#46454079)

It's called "lazy".

Not how I remember it (1)

slapout (93640) | about 7 months ago | (#46453919)

Growing up I always remember girls being better at math.

Unconcious bias? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46453997)

Mattel released a talking Barbie doll that would say "Math class is tough!" That sounds like a pretty deliberate bias.

Cultural bias biggest factor (4, Insightful)

fiziko (97143) | about 7 months ago | (#46454003)

As a math and science teacher, I've seen multiple studies on performance of different genders in math and science. There is a gap in North America, although it's closing rapidly. (In the past 40 years, men have gone from having 20% higher averages than women to having 2% higher averages than women. Evolution doesn't act that quickly; it's a purely social bias.) Men still perform slightly higher than women in this region because there are still teachers out there who expect more from male students and push them harder. In other words, if the teacher *expects* female students to get 60s and down and *expects* male students to get 70s and higher, then that teacher who sees a male and a female student with 68% averages, then the teacher will work with the male to improve his performance, but not put in the same effort with the female student. It's a horrible thought, but it's still happening out there. The same is true for race factors, for "learning disabilities" (which I would rather call "learning anomalies" but that's another story) and more.

Bottom line: there is a slight and closing gap between men and women in math and science in North America, not because there is any biological difference in this particular area, but because social biases that exist in the system are failing the female students more often than they are failing the male students.

ARITHMETIC, not maths (3, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 7 months ago | (#46454017)

From the article:

The job was simple: As accurately and quickly as possible, add up sets of two-digit numbers in a 4-minute math sprint.

So really the article is bogus as they are two different things (and if you think otherwise, it's probably because you've only every done arthimetic and don't really know what mathematics is).

As it is, anyone in the UK who's ever watched Countdown will have been disabused very rapidly of any anti-woman bias in arthimetic skills.

Hardly anybody... (2, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about 7 months ago | (#46454091)

Hardly anybody hires based on gender bias. You do not hire a gender, you hire a person. It doesn't matter if women in general are or are not as good as men in general at a given task, as long as the particular woman you are interviewing is.

All this whining about "gender bias" and the following excuses to try to take responsibility from people for their own failures sickens me.

Now, more on the topic, regarding gender differences, the average is not very different from men and women, so for basic math there is not much of a real difference. On the top, though, which is considerably more relevant to math and logic related profession there is a real biological gap, and no it is not social:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Men and women are quite different in many things, it is a politically correct idiocy to try and force the concept that these differences are only aesthetic.

Math ? (2, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#46454157)

The trouble with americans is that they think there is only one. (Math)

But it is plural - Mathematics

In the rest of the world its called Maths

Women have babies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46454219)

The social and economic consequences of this very simple fact are more than enough to explain all questions of societal expectations and wage differences, among other things. It doesn't matter if a theoretical woman is better or equal to the typical man in math or anything else, what matters is the more practical problem of whether a TYPICAL woman is better or equal to a typical man in X or Y. Facts, history, and preferences tend to favor men working long term in high physical or mental stress environments for longer periods. Likewise, those same facts, history, and preferences tend to favor women working in caretaking and homebuilding fields. Both types of jobs are equally noble, but undeniably different. Personally, I think women get the better end of the deal.

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