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Old 01-20-2005, 07:25 AM   #46
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Originally posted by Jamila
the "lack of conclusions" on this issue by our male counterparts, for me, says as much as if they had actually stated a viewpoint on this issue.
Please add something more than cheap implications about other forum members.
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:16 AM   #47
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Horrors! Controversy at Harvard! Seriously, where did Summers get these ideas? They're ridiculous. Using the same line of reasoning you could say that I'm a an artist or a library worker because I'm a woman. I'm not an artist because I'm a woman, I like drawing and painting. I work in a library because I think libraries are important tools in fighting illiteracy. It's got nothing to do with gender.
*edited to say I hope this makes sense, I'm a little under the weather and there is a totally infernal racket due to a construction project next door*
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:42 AM   #48
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Academics used to claim that there was indeed a difference between men and women as per scientific skill, thus justifying the now outmoded practice of maintaining sex-specific schools. I think it's more of an expectations thing. They expected men to be better at science than women. Looking at my own family you could use us as examples. My dad is a retired physician, a scientific ace, while all of us girls struggled like hell to pass our math and science classes, as did my mother. Our brother is an engineer. However, my mother's opthamologist is a woman. You can't become a nurse without being really good in science; nursing is both a science and an art. I've looked at the texts at work that nursing students study when they take their boards. At one point, back in the '20's or so, some idiots even claimed that M.D. stood for "male doctor". This, of course, is bull !! So I don't agree that the difference are innate, they are socialized into people from the environment.
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:59 AM   #49
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I'm going to merge these.
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Old 01-20-2005, 10:18 AM   #50
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I pretty much follow the postmodernist school of historical thought because the modernist school is too romantic. It was the Victorians who thought one day there would be no need to write any more history books because all the "facts" would be in the books. Then the twentieth century rolled around and an Italian historian and philosopher, Benedetto Croce, argued that this could not be true. Of course there are certain things that are facts, such as the exact date of the Battle of Agincourt. But whose assessment of King X is "fact"? Was Battle X immoral or glorious? What about Seige X? Was it a triumph or a defeat for "civilization"? There's a big grey area where it's tough to establish "facts". Admittedly this can definitely sound like an extreme, but the guy who taught me this stuff in "Historian's Craft" was that conservative Napoleonic scholar I was talking about who had that fight with the PC police at school.
I need to write a disclaimer that I'm sick today, my brain is on strike and maybe this doesn't make sense. We'll see how I manage with the Dewey Decimal system at work today.
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Old 07-28-2008, 10:26 AM   #51
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I know this is an old thread but this new study just came out..

Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008
The Myth of the Math Gender Gap
By Alice Park

A new report by researchers at University of Wisconsin and University of California, Berkeley, aims to overturn the long-held belief that girls aren't as good at math as boys. According to new data, the researchers say, that gender gap has become a myth — a finding they hope will help shift the very real gender gap in math, science and technology professions, which are currently dominated by men.

Janet Hyde, a psychologist at University of Wisconsin, and her (all-female) collaborators culled data from federally mandated annual math tests administered to 7.2 million second- through 11th-grade students in 10 states. They found little difference between boys' and girs' average math scores. Hyde also searched for a gender difference in the outlying scores — that is, whether more boys were among the top math scorers than girls — but again found negligible difference, although boys did still slightly outnumber girls in the 99th percentile.

The equalizing of math scores may reflect the simple fact that more female students are now taking math courses, says Hyde, whose study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears in the current issue of Science. In Hyde's earlier research in the 1990s, she found that girls and boys scored similarly on math tests in elementary school, but that by high school the boys were overtaking the girls. Why? Because somewhere along the way, girls stopped taking math and never learned the skills required to do well on standardized tests. Today, girls are increasingly sticking with math classes through school — according to the paper, girls and boys take advanced math in high school in equal numbers, and women receive nearly half of all bachelor degrees given in math in the U.S. — and their scores are closing the gap. But "the stereotype that boys are better at math is alive and strong," Hyde says. "Parents still believe it, and teachers still believe it."

That skewed view — and not some lack of aptitude — may be what keeps girls from pursuing math and science as a career. But Hyde notes that more and more girls are continuing to study math through high school and college, which points to the fact that female students are increasingly aware of the careers that are open to them. These students are making forward-looking decisions about what courses to take in high school, Hyde says, based in part on what they want to do next. The next step, she says, is attracting more women to the graduate and career levels in math. "Mathematics and science departments need to work on making graduate departments more women-friendly for not just the students but for the faculty as well," says Hyde, by encouraging more women into their ranks where they can serve as role models for future generations of female students.

"What I am hoping is that as this cohort of girls, who are taking calculus in school, pass through the system, they will get more gender equity in the highest level research jobs in science and math," she says.
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Old 08-07-2008, 09:25 PM   #52
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Hyde also searched for a gender difference in the outlying scores — that is, whether more boys were among the top math scorers than girls — but again found negligible difference, although boys did still slightly outnumber girls in the 99th percentile.
Actually it's about 2 to 1 (1.85 of boys to 0.9% of girls) in the 99th percentile -- the pool from which Harvard, MIT and other elite schools would surely draw their applicants. So it should be no surprise that we see the fields of mathematics and engineering dominated by males.
Interesting study but it does nothing to discredit Lawrence Summers or the theory that male and female brains learn differently.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:10 AM   #53
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No amount of study is ever going to discredit what some people want to believe

I believe he's ignorant, maybe Harvard could study that
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:23 AM   #54
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Girls worse at math? No way, new analysis shows

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor | June 1, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Girls can do just as well at math as boys -- even at the genius level -- if they are given the same opportunities and encouragement, researchers reported on Monday.

Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradicts studies showing girls can do as well as boys on average in math -- but cannot excel in the way males can.

They also said it is a clear rebuttal to Larry Summers, who as president of Harvard University said in 2005 that biological differences could explain why fewer women became professors of mathematics. Summers is now chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Barack Obama.

"We conclude that gender inequality, not lack of innate ability or 'intrinsic aptitude', is the primary reason fewer females than males are identified as excelling in mathematics performance in most countries, including the United States," Janet Hyde and Janet Mertz of the University of Wisconsin in Madison wrote in their report.

They did a statistical analysis comparing various math scores and contests with the World Economic Forum's 2007 Gender Gap Index. This annual report ranks countries according to employment and economic opportunities, education and political opportunities and medical status.

The United States ranks 31 out of 128 nations on the World Economic Forum index.

"We asked questions about how well females relative to males are doing at the average level, at the high-end level -- 95th percentile or above -- and the profoundly gifted level, the one-in-a-million type level," Mertz said in a telephone interview.

"Countries with greater gender equity are also the ones where the ratio of girls to boys doing well in math is close to equal," she said.

GIFTED AND AVERAGE

She said no one disputes that at the average level, girls perform as well as boys mathematically.

But at the top levels, disparities persist and some experts have said this is do to the "greater male variability" theory -- the idea that males in general are more likely to score both extremely high and extremely poorly on tests than girls are.

Mertz said the analysis shows this is not true. "It's not that everywhere in the world there are fewer girls than boys in the top 1 percent," she said.

If there were a biological reason for the differences, this would have to hold everywhere, she said. But it does not.

"Analysis of data from 15-year-old students participating in the 2003 Program for International Student Assessment likewise indicated that as many, if not more girls than boys scored above the 99th percentile in Iceland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom," Mertz and Hyde wrote.

Several different international tests show the same pattern, including the International Math Olympics, Mertz said.

"If girls don't have equal educational opportunities or if they know if they learn the material there won't be jobs available to them, why bother, they seek something else," she said.

This is changing, slowly, in the United States, they pointed out.

"For example, only 14 percent of the U.S. doctoral degrees in the biological sciences went to women in 1970, whereas this figure had risen to 49 percent by 2006," they wrote.

"The percentages in mathematics and statistics were 8 percent in 1970 and 32 percent in 2006."
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