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I recommend Shiobe's diary about the Jet Propulsion Lab presenter treating the little girl and little boy in the audience very differently, and the discussion that follows it about girls and women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) fields.  More on this topic and links to a couple of relevant articles below the squiggle.

This is going to be a bit of a stream of consciousness diary. I do not have any particular answers here, just random thoughts. First, some background - I coach a math team for homeschoolers age 14 and below. This is my 15th year. I try to be as welcoming as possible to girls. Our meetings are very cooperative. We sit around tables in small groups working on interesting problems together. I try to group beginner girls together. We have several high school student helpers who are alums of the group, and I try to put the girl helpers with the younger girls to serve as role models. All the kids seem to really enjoy it, and I think the format is particularly good for fostering girls active participation. I think the fact that most of the kids have never attended an institutional school might be an interesting part of the dynamics, but since I have never led a group like this for school kids I am not sure how if affects things.

There is an interesting article from an MIT economics professor Here. He looks at data from the American Mathematics Competition exams, which are given to several hundred high school students every year, and analyzes the gender breakdown. His thesis is that the strong girls tend to be much more clustered at particular programs than the strong boys, and that those programs may be doing something different that particularly encourages girls.

I would like to think that my own program is particularly encouraging to girls. But when I think about the dozen or so kids I have had over the years who have been in the top 2% or so of a national cohort, there has been only one girl. I do not think that there has been female talent going unencouraged in my group. I think I just have not gotten the same sort of math obsessed girls as boys.

I also think that parents are a strong factor. Since this is a homeschooler group, I get to know the parents well. We have quite a few dads who are engineers, programmers etc.  There are a few moms like that. Bu more of the moms are themselves math phobic. They want their kids in my group because they feel very insecure in their ability to teach their homeschoolers math past basic arithmetic. I encourage parents to participate along with the kids. Some do, more don't. The ones I have had who seem to flee from the room when the math starts have been moms. So I think the issue is much more culturally pervasive than just teachers and schools.

Hereis a bonus interesting article on girls in STEM fields. This one has the thesis that young women are choosing not to go into hard science PhD programs not because they are not adequately prepared (ED - or could not get in), but because they have made a calculation that medical school is a better route.

ED - Wow, my diary has been rescued! Would it be too girly to swoon?

Originally posted to blueisland on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I come from a country (5+ / 0-)

    that had a fondness for single-sex schools. I went to two of them myself for part of my High School years and I hated it.

    However, I have heard that in some subjects, the achievements of both sexes can be raised by single-sex teaching.

    So some classes are mixed, others not but the whole school is fully mixed.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:52:52 PM PST

    •  For what it's worth (24+ / 0-)

      I did jr. high and high school at all-female schools--and I CHOSE the high school. The main drawback was not having much dating exposure in high school, nor did I learn to properly defer to the male of the species, which made me persona non grata in college classes (especially when they realized I was a freshman taking sophomore classes and didn't even turn 18 until  3/4 of the way through the fall semester, making me the youngest person in the room). I didn't have a lot of dates there either--but the two men I married LIKE me for being strong and independent and not afraid to state my opinion.

      U was an ENglish Lit major, not math--but the males were just as unhappy about being best4ed by a giel (especially when I had the highest grade on all the finals, and was the only one who got a particular question right and the professor read my answer to the class--I wanted the floor to open that day).

      What all-female high schools and colleges did was allow women to develop the habit of speaking their  mind and not worrying about  what their boyfriends might think. It also encourages women to develop leadership skills. It's not surprising Hillary C. went to a Seven Sisters school.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:13:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Keep in mind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      you may have trans boys in your cohort, and you may also have girls who resent being separated from the boys (e.g. girls with mostly male friends, or girls who are just bothered by being reduced to their gender in a context that's supposed to be about their intellect).

      It's also possible that you might have girls with a more 'masculine' style of relating who either shut down the other girls or shut themselves down in an effort to fit in.

      Every kid is an individual, and while single-sex teaching might do better on average, there are plenty of Vagina-Americans who would do better in a mixed environment (and no, I don't mean a single-sex classroom in a mixed school or even a single-sex group in a mixed classroom).

      This is sort of personal for me. Any subject where I was automatically assigned to an all-girl class or group would have lost me forever. I probably would have dropped out if I'd had to take "girl math" and "girl physics" instead of "math" and "physics;" I definitely wouldn't have stuck with the segregated subjects through an intensive college-prep/AP curriculum, let alone ended up majoring in math or science. And I wasn't 'out' as trans in high school, so you wouldn't have been able to guess there would be a problem without asking me.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:05:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  On the train ride home from work today (5+ / 0-)

    I was thinking of women now being allowed to serve in combat, which led me to think of my three years as a Deputy District Attorney in the 1980's.  Back then, none of the judges I worked in front of would, no matter what, send a woman to prison.  Not for armed robbery, not for attempted murder, not for embezzling over one hundred thousand dollars from her employer, never.  Men got prison time for the same crimes for which women were sentenced to probation, and resentenced to probation when they violated their probation.

    To me this was sexism and prejudice, albeit a prejudice that worked to the benefit of the female convicted felons, unless you happened to be one of their victims.  Hopefully this favortism no longer is a problem.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:58:29 PM PST

    •  that's called a false... (5+ / 0-)

      equivalence, and I doubt your story is even true.  

      I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

      by jbou on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:02:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It may be a false equivalence, but doubting (14+ / 0-)

        whether it is true is ... well, I don't know, skepticism is a good thing and all, I suppose.

        Nonetheless: My sons once attended a school where the boys and girls both perceived that discipline was administered unequally. Some of the girls decided to actually track the data -- recording each instance of "crime" and "punishment". The results were unequivocal -- boys were given worse punishments than girls for the same misdeeds.

        Sexism does run in both directions. Indeed, much of Phyllis Schlafly's odious rhetoric against the ERA focused on persuading women that they had more to lose than to gain, by highlighting the benefits women enjoyed from their non-equality. Her opponents, meanwhile, recognized that these benefits came at too high a price, not the least being women's self-respect.

        Thus, the Men's Rights movement may be populated primarily by disaffected misogynists -- but that doesn't mean that all of their arguments are empty. It isn't difficult to find a stark contrast, by the way -- compare the history of divorce law and child custody in the UK to that of the US, and you'll see what it looks like when a culture presumes that the father, rather than the mother, has the right to custody. It isn't pretty. The same is true with alimony -- if John Lennon had divorced Cynthia in the US, she'd have walked away with millions. Instead, she and Julian could barely afford a British middle-class lifestyle.

        On the other hand, as people do enjoy observing, British laws criminalizing homosexual behavior didn't apply to women. This is generally attributed to Queen Victoria's naiveté. I don't doubt that she was naive, nor that she really opined that there simply was no such thing as a lesbian, but I don't think that's why the men who wrote the law didn't apply it to women.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:39:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, well... (0+ / 0-)

          racism and sexism are about power. Women and minorities  have had very little power. Men's rights groups are a joke and should be openly mocked for just how pathetic they sound. Real men suffer in silence and live lives of quiet  desperation and all that, they don't join groups and whine about how much it sucks to make more money and have more power.

          I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

          by jbou on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:46:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The joke of quiet desperation (4+ / 0-)

            It takes a peculiar type of moral tone-deafness to kick aside anyone who suffers injustice.

          •  I know that it is popular to say things like, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Noisy Democrat, ubertar, mrkvica

            "racism and sexism are about power," but to the extent this is true, it just means you are defining away as something else anything that isn't about power. If that's what you want to do, I guess you can -- but that doesn't mean that the something else doesn't exist anymore, nor that it isn't connected to racism and/or sexism is some fundamental and effectual way.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:24:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know if you noticed, but nothing you said (0+ / 0-)

            rebuts, refutes, or even contradicts anything I said.

            I will note, however, that your definition of a Real Man begins to lose some of its weight when a Real Man observes that his children are being raised by a lunatic and that he is powerless to do anything about it. It's not always about the Real Man.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:26:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  that's laughable (0+ / 0-)

            You wouldn't know injustice if it bit you on the butt.  Loving victimhood is your calling and I taught my children to be strong and independent.  I know that your sort of assertiveness is merely fear of independence.  That's in part why my daughter is addressed as Vice-President today.  Her financee describes her as "the boss" and she is the shot-caller even though he  is strong in his own right.

          •  Real men suffer in silence (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Yo Bubba

            as they step over more qualified blacks or women on their way to the top.

            Puke.

            Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

            by Helpless on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:05:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  When I hear that men are consistently (12+ / 0-)

          paid less than women for the same work, when the feminine pronoun "she" is regarded as gender neutral, when boy babies and male fetuses are routinely put to death as "economic liabilities," when history is written from the point of view of women, when society abets women's denial of aging as it currently does men's, when men must constantly fear sexual assault, when...

          You see, I'm a ways from worrying about "reverse sexism."

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:00:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As I said: Feminism, once upon a time, was (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ScienceMom, ubertar, splashy

            upfront and explicit about recognizing the character of "reverse sexism" (your term, not mine, I don't think there's anything "reverse" about it, gender inequality is and always has been a two-way street, it's just that in one direction it's a 4-lane freeway and in the other it's a frontage road). Feminists were upfront and explicit about rejecting such benefits as some/many/most women enjoyed, because those benefits cost far more than they were worth. More to the point, most of those benefits were predicated on the notion that women needed coddling, due to their miscellaneous inherent inferiorities. Thus, the existence of those benefits provides part of the cultural backstop for the continuation of all of the discrimination that women endure, and that is why those benefits must go.

            One of Schlafly's specific arguments at the time was that women would be subject to the military draft, and would be, whether they liked it or not, forced out of their homes and into combat. At the time (as I recall it ... though this was a long time ago, so I may be recalling incorrectly), most feminists simply dismissed this as fanciful, rather than dismissing it as irrelevant. Even among feminists, few envisioned a future in which women were combat soldiers, side by side with men -- with respect to the ERA, at any rate, the idea was treated as ridiculous, rather in the way that 15 years ago few progressive heterosexuals seriously believed that marriage equality was on the horizon. (Although I do remember at least having the debate in high school in the late 70s, with people citing Israel as a clear example that women certainly could be combat soldiers.) Schlafly was, nonetheless, correct -- in the long run, there is no reasonable way to have full equal rights without either eliminating conscription into combat roles or drafting women and sending them into combat.

            My personal solution to this is specific problem is a constitutional amendment forbidding the military enslavement called conscription, but that's not a very mainstream idea -- it's the kind of idea that folks around here dismiss as Kucinich-y kookiness.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:45:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  When we fought for the ERA (4+ / 0-)

              back in the 60's and 70's, we discussed women in combat and agreed that women were better suited for it (the mama bear argument), and we dismissed the ravings of shared bathrooms (and yanno, some business have shared bathrooms and I don't see civilization crumbling over it), and the whole same sex marriage argument fell on relatively deaf ears - we were "So?"  

              All of the reasons they pulled up to combat the ERA were ones we felt were irrelevant compared to the benefits of equal rights.

              All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

              by Noddy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:27:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  That is true (4+ / 0-)

              The point of Feminism is that all people should be equal, with equal responsibilities and benefits, like men getting paternity time off for instance.

              The men, and many women, didn't seem to get that. All they could think about was women coming and taking their benefits, I guess.

              Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:15:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Constitutional amendment banning the draft (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, Leftleaner

              I think the country would be a lot better off with the reverse.  Require everyone (except those still in high school) to spend a year in the military when they turn 18.  If still in high school, then as soon as they leave school.

              That's everyone.  No deferments.  The military should be able to find satisfactory work for conscientious objectors. And jobs for the disabled and other "challenged" individuals.

              This is the only way to stop the "perpetual war" ideas of the neo-cons.

              Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

              by Helpless on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:17:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'd like the anchor around Congress. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Yo Bubba, Helpless, Mudderway

                The draft should be active for those that live in congressional districts where the representative or senators voted for the war. One ticket for each that voted yea.  Reaffirmation of the war every year required.

                That will make them pause a moment before starting a war.

                One question I did have is that if corporations are people, doesn't that mean that they're eligible too? ;)

                •  I'd like to see Shell shareholders (0+ / 0-)

                  have to go to war for their oil in Iraq.  

                  Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

                  by Helpless on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:39:39 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  thats actually a pretty nice idea (0+ / 0-)

                  If this were the case people would have to really be prepared to suffer for the war. I'm not one of the people who think every war not on your own land (ie a war of defense) is unjust, but most are.

                  "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                  by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 12:16:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I don't know (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Helpless

                isn't that a lot like israel, which seems to be a country in a perpetual war?

                I mean i'm all for the draft in a time of war, and strongly against an army of only volunteers, because the public starts to not care about the wars such an army is fighting.
                For example, one of the main reasons there was a real antiwar movement during vietnam, was because of the draft and the fact that it could hit everyone*. During the irak and afghanistan wars the anti war movement has been so weak, because joe smoe, doesn't have to worry about his son suddenly having to fight in a war.

                *of course the children of the truly powerful still often managed to get out of the draft, so i would like a draft to be actually blind to the power of who it drafts, but I doubt that will ever happen.

                "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 09:27:04 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  You recall wrong (0+ / 0-)

              The general sentiment was that, if they didn't like drafting women, maybe they would stop finding wars to fight, but if they were going to have a draft, at least women would have a shot at some of the veteran's benefits they were excluded from at that point.  I never heard anyone say that they would never draft women.  

              We should not be fighting about equal pay for equal work and access to birth control in 2012. Elizabeth Warren

              by Leftleaner on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:05:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  ironic that people like Schlafly (0+ / 0-)

              found it horrid for women to serve in the US military, but her fellow conservatives have long supported Israel, and still do.  A nation where military service is required of all its citizens.

              The people of my acquaintance who home school are religious-right conservatives.  Success in the sciences requires a curious, skeptical mind.  Parents who are "engineers and programmers" are usually of a temperament that values focus and attention to detail, rather than an open-mindedness that can engage in paradigm-breaking discovery.  

              So your girls are perhaps being raised in households where mastery of math. and science are subtly discouraged.  Perhaps you need to use financial examples more in your tutoring.  Conservatives admire and reward mastery of banking and financial services, perhaps even leading to job creation.

              "The will must be stronger than the skill." M. Ali

              by awhitestl on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:30:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  OK, I've backed off and thought (10+ / 0-)

          about your comment a bit more.

          Some child-support laws, etc., may be quite legitimately unfair to men--point taken. If this is the case, "men's rights" groups who serve to right these inequities only discredit themselves when they resort to misogynist attacks.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:08:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, yeah. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            karmsy, Noddy, mrkvica

            Whenever I hear from a spokesman for Men's Rights, I always start to picture a guy who's more than a little on the wrong side of mentally stable. Or more precisely, a guy whose version of reality is heavily skewed towards the hypothesis that he's been hard done by, and probably not just by his wife.

            But again, that's an actual ad hominem (as opposed to the thing that so many people around here mistake for ad hominem) -- just because these guys are idiots, doesn't mean everything they say is wrong, or a lie.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:48:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Look my reply is directly under yours, which means (0+ / 0-)

              we posted at the same time thereabouts, to Karmsy. Somy reply wasn't to you, unless you wrote the original post about battered women.

              You got confused reading the thread. It happens to me too.

              So calm down, and let it go.

              •  sigh. (0+ / 0-)

                well, your comment was a reply to karmsy's response to my response, so i naturally assumed you were addressing me.

                on the other hand, a few comments later, i did get confused, having reloaded the thread from the parent comment so that i could check on my own understanding of the thread's origin and progress ...

                i gotta go.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:34:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps he should write his own diary about that (0+ / 0-)

            instead of hijacking this thread.

            •  Um. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ubertar, mrkvica

              I'm sorry, I didn't think I was hijacking the thread, I thought I was contributing, quite respectfully and sincerely, to the conversation. If the diarist feels otherwise, I'll fuck off.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:03:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The diarist is talking about girls and math and (3+ / 0-)

                education.

                Not Women in the Military or Combat, not your divorce issues, or battered women. Not that these aren't important topics, but clearly, early education happens way before a girl is old enough [in this country] to sign up for the military, become married or divorced.

                And for the record, no one told you to fuck off, or even shut up. I suggested, since you have such strong feelings about this, to write your own diary. That is encouragement. Then you can have the discussion you want to have and we can still explore this other issue without all this other baggage that is not relevant to this particular topic.

                •  Okay, okay, okay. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ubertar, HeyMikey, mrkvica

                  I wasn't the one who introduced the topic, I just responded to a response to someone else's comment, and now I'm a hijacker. Jeebus.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:14:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I found your replies interesting to read (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    viral, mrkvica, helpImdrowning

                    I may not have a lot of say so around here due to being fairly quiet, but in my opinion you are being unfairly picked on. In a diary talking about inequality about the sexes ( even if said diary is mostly based on education) there is bound to be discussion of other inequalities as well. To become truly equal all voices need to be heard equally.

          •  I should note, by the way, that I've been fighting (0+ / 0-)

            this particular battle for a very long time. When I was ten years old (about 40 years ago), I staged a comically Rosa-Parks-ish protest against a certain privilege that the girls in my elementary school enjoyed, by refusing to surrender a particular little chunk of physical space to one of my classmates. Somewhat to my amazement, I got nothing but a raised eyebrow of surprise from the adult in charge, and without further controversy or debate, that privilege evaporated. (At least, that's how I remember it. My sister was outraged, though.)

            Whether that makes me one of the first (if not the first) pathetic dickhead Men's Rights activists, or a visionary who, by tearing down this one small and ludicrous concession to females' supposed physical inferiority (or something ...), helped everyone in my school revamp their attitudes about the "differences" between boys and girls, I can't say.

            (I should also note that I was not intentionally emulating Rosa Parks, of whom I had never heard at the time.)

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:01:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, feminism was about equality (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Danali, mrkvica, Leftleaner

              So, in reality, you were being a feminist doing that.

              Equality means everyone being equal, not discriminated against because of their sex/gender.

              Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:19:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Really, there is a long history of women being (3+ / 0-)

        sent to jail for killing or wounding abusive husbands. There was a whole big thing about it in the 1980s--Battered Woman Syndrome.

        Thank you jbou.

        And recent stories indicate that if a woman is fat, she gets sent to jail most likely, for being fat, and not necessarily for being guilty.

        Maybe he worked in movie star court.

    •  Thats bizarre and does not match the statistics (7+ / 0-)

      women who kill are sentenced for longer terms.
      women who commit violent acts  usually are sentenced for longer terms. The idea is that if a women does it then she is really abnormal and dangerous.

      Guess your area was a outlier and strangely different from a country that locked women in insane asylums for not wanting to clean toilets and cook for thier husband or obey every command from the houses master. Or maybe a country where police would lecture the woman who was beaten to obey.... like the police did when my father threw mom across the kitchen when she was 8 months pregnant (probably because she brought it on herself marrying someone a foot taller then her). Of course that was in the glorious 50s. Perhaps they felt her punishment should come from her master not the courts.

      I hesitate to call any story a fabulation but it was not the world I saw around me nor in the papers  nor experienced myself in the 80s. But it is strange that you should come out with this attached to women serving in combat...Mainly because it was and still is that women live unarmed in war zones through out history making them safe targets for many males emotional problems dealing with thier own situation... Similar to not allowing black soldiers in general to carry weapons in combat unless it was an all black unit until Viet nam as far as I know.  

      Fear is the Mind Killer...

      by boophus on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:57:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You seem to have confused me with the guy (0+ / 0-)

        who posted the original comment. He's the one who told the story about judges going easy on women. I'm the one who told the story about teachers and administrators going easy on 6th-grade girls. My story was pretty directly linked to the original theme of the diary.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:20:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  oops, my bad. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        splashy

        at some point I went back to reload the parent comment, for reference, and lost track of the fact and thought your response was to me.

        nevermind ...

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:30:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lovely derailing (0+ / 0-)

      of a thoughtful diary.  Really well done.  golf clap

      •  Because differences in the way boys and girls (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ubertar, blueisland, HeyMikey, mrkvica

        are disciplined in school is not connected to the diary's overall theme? I took what seemed like a bit of derailing and redirected it back to the topic at hand -- or I thought I did, anyway. Apparently, all I did was piss everybody off.

        I once asked the most talented student I ever taught what she thought schools could do to address the general problem, and her answer wasn't "try harder to encourage, recognize, and praise the girls," it was, "stop painting the girls' bathrooms pink."

        Whatever, I'm out of here. It's not like I have any clue about these matters. In the meantime, I have to go do some science. At the research facility where I work. On a team that is about 50% female.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:27:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  oops (0+ / 0-)

        at some point I went back to reload the parent comment, for reference, and lost track of the fact and thought your response was to me.

        nevermind ...

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:30:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm inclined to believe you (3+ / 0-)

      It's an argument I have used for years to promote passing the ERA. It helps men too, because there are times where they get the short stick.

      For instance, it's rare here in the US for men to be able to get paternity leave. They should be able to get it just like women can get maternity leave, although even the women don't get it nearly as often or as long as they should either.

      The more even the benefits, the more men will fight for them right alongside of the women, since they will lose the same benefits at the same time if things are applied equally.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:51:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey DA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      Did you ever do a study on the outcomes of these two groups?  Which had the higher recidivism?  Just asking because I've recently come to the conclusion that we jail far too many convicted felons.  And the punishment really is a life sentence no matter how little is spent in jail.

      Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

      by Helpless on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:02:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is evidence that the standard... (16+ / 0-)

    ...deviation of males in mathematical ability is larger than that of women.  Although the mean for women is generally slightly higher than that for men, the upper level tends to be dominated by males.  Likewise the worst math students are also mostly males.

    In my experience (35+ years as a math professor) the best female talent has gone into chemistry and biology...with medical school as a distinct future possibility.

    •  YES! (5+ / 0-)

      That fits my limited experience also.

      •  Well-documented with IQ. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, historys mysteries, mrkvica

        For both males and females, the average IQ is 100. But there are both more male geniuses and more males in the mental retardation range.

        Prejudice is essentially math ignorance--confusing prevalence with destiny. The fact there are more male geniuses does not mean any given female genius is any less brilliant than male geniuses.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:54:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Would love to mention (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueisland

        somewhere along here, not sure where a good fit would be but this appears as good a place as any because it was trending back somewhere in the neighborhood (or universe) of your article's focus, a reference to a comment I left on Shiobe's original diary. The literature is pretty conclusive and thorough and lots has been supported by, and reported on, via the National Science Foundation. Some searches of their website and awards database will yield loads of careful research by concerned, dedicated and talented math and science educators and researchers. When the "pipeline" view expanded from K-12 to pre-K-16, to something of a continuum from pre-K to lifelong learning, part of this expansion was due, I think, to the understanding that the factors discouraging girls, young women, and people of color from getting in and staying in STEM education and careers were many, and often difficult to ascertain. As you mention, parental involvement is one of the key factors that comes up in many studies. Focusing primarily on "in-the-classroom" or related activities such as after-school or at-home, where these relate to educational advancement, there are identifiable, often subtle, behavioral traits engaged in by teachers and administrators that affect girls very early on to persuade them that their efforts are better focused outside of STEM. It is unfortunate since girls and women are just as talented from the get-go as boys and men in any intellectual endeavor (and it's pretty much a draw, sans chemical enhancers in the physical realm, too). I imagine some (if not many) teachers, men and women, are not consciously aware of how they participate in this discouragement. Parents, either, if they truly want their daughters to be as successful in life as they want their sons. In any case, now that I'm saying all of this I see that much of what else is being talked about here does relate--it's deeply ingrained in the culture after all, isn't it?

        I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

        by dannyboy1 on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 08:14:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  *eye roll* (4+ / 0-)

      And I suppose this magically has nothing to do with how society steers girls away from STEM fields.

      no, it's just that men are magically better at math.

      it's biology!

      •  Actually, what she said means that, on average, (8+ / 0-)

        women are better at math. But men are more likely to fall in the extremes of ability range-- the best and the worst. How much of that is nature, and how much nurture is probably too soon to tell.

        Mitt Romney = Draco Malfoy

        by ubertar on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:58:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some Nature, some Nurture. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, rserven, mrkvica

        Why go all one-sided on a math prof?  Just because Larry Summers said something in a sexist manner once, doesn't make it false.

        For a variety of profound reasons, things are the way they are currently, & can be changed to some extent.  The problem going forward--a big, broad problem affecting far more issues than the % of women in STEM fields--is our tendency to mistake sociobiological tendencies for Either ironclad Natural Law, Or totally subjective cultural influence.  It's that Black/White, This Or That, insistently dualistic mistake that compels people to declare, as unassailable truth, that which almost certainly isn't.

        Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

        by Leftcandid on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:46:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder how much of that is due to (0+ / 0-)

      Early exposure to different stimulus.

      Throwing a ball, for instance, teaches about physics. The more that girls do things like that, regardless of whether they tend to be athletic, the more that will understand basic physics.

      A lot depends on how very early childhood is handled by the caretakers around the children.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:23:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight, HeyMikey, Helpless

        In 1968, I had 798 on the SAT Physics test and 800 on the Math II, and I certainly didn't learn it from throwing balls.

        •  Me either (0+ / 0-)

          although my SAT scores were a lot lower, I did make the Honor Society mostly because of my math and science interests.  I didn't own a mitt or football.

          I found something I could be good at through hard work and loved the recognition.  I had several friends who seemed to be much like me.

          I think some of the boys who did poorly in school missed out on some key skills early on (reading?), fell behind, then decided math and physics were for nerds.  They concentrated on cars, sports, partying and girls.

          So?  Elementary and middle schools need to give more individualized attention to boys and girls who fall behind.

          Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

          by Helpless on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:36:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

        but I don't think those normally associated with great math skills are also very associated with sports. ;)

        "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

        by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 01:30:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'll Repeat an Experience I Stumbled On in Sailing (25+ / 0-)

    instruction, for getting gender neutral results in mixed gender teaching.

    Our college sailing club way back when used to run a recruitment drive spring and fall quarters for novices who would want to learn and of course party. Then we'd run a weekend instruction course for several weeks to qualify the novices to sail on their own.

    A few years earlier I'd noticed that people who were experienced first as crew members learned to command more slowly than landlubbers. They seemed to be doing 2 things at once, first remembering how their skippers had handled problems, then figuring things out for themselves from the new unaccustomed position. The landlubbers having no background were free to figure things out for themselves and they could sometimes make perceptions and extrapolations more easily.

    From the lore of sailing to every book and movie made about the subject, where harping on skill and experience vs the idiot newbies is practically the foundation of the story, this was a very surprising observation for me.

    Once for lesson one, which was 3 novices plus an expert in each boat, the teacher I was assisting asked who wanted to steer first. As a prank he said those who'd not raised their hands had to be the ones to steer first.

    But I saw the same effect in this prank lesson. The timid ones got their half hour and they all were catching on faster than timid learners I'd seen before. When the bold novices got their turn, they didn't seem to have the handicap that timid people experienced when they went 2nd or 3rd and had watched the bolder people doing it first.

    So after the lesson in free sailing time, in the carefully limited course we'd set up, everyone in the class seemed to be equally confident whereas ordinarily even after 1 lesson there were usually great differences in confidence and competence.

    And there was a huge gender component to this; I was used to seeing few if any women willing to steer on their own after only 1 lesson, but this day every one of them was willing.

    So I later taught an entire quarter course on the one simple principle that all those who'd volunteered to go 2nd, for the whole course they had to go 1st each day. Now I never told students the real reason I was letting the timid people try every new lesson first. I just let the social preference perform the gender selection automatically. At the end of that quarter where we typically had zero or maybe one woman granted skippering privileges, every woman in the course qualified.

    In a mixed gender learning setting women tend to function as the more timid learners, and the experience of hanging back at first seems to handicap them some. Men generally function as bold learners but the bold learners are independent enough not to be saddled by the burden of modelling others' behavior.

    To this day there's an industry of teaching sailing and for that matter primary & 2ndary education to women in gender segregated courses. This goofy stunt shows it doesn't have to be done that way at least in some settings where it's thought necessary.

    I wouldn't pretend to know how to apply this to other learning and participation settings, or to know the nature vs nuture breakdown. If we have more bold women today then I'd expect them to do as well as the bold men in waiting to try a lesson 2nd.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:16:19 PM PST

    •  This is a fascinating story/observation! (7+ / 0-)

      I'm now trying to figure out how to make it workable in the university classroom.

      Babylon system is the vampire... ~Bob Marley

      by sfinx on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:22:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, fascinating story (6+ / 0-)

      In my little math group, if I have multiple volunteers to demonstrate a problem on the board, I always give priority to a less experienced kid, or to whoever volunteers least frequently. That helps a little with the gender issue. But I think I have fewer girls who volunteer at all. I suspect the difference is less than it wold be in a school group, but I don't know that for sure.

      My group attracts "über nerds" who are great at, and obsessed with, math and sometimes science. So far, those have all been boys. A couple of them have had Aspbergers traits. I think that homeschooling is particularly attractive to families of children like that, both because of their mathematical precociousness and because they would be at such risk of not fitting in.

      •  Another dynamic of note (9+ / 0-)

        is society's relative tolerance for male "imperfection," whereas women are held to rigid standards of "perfection."

        "A woman must be twice as good as a man to be thought half as good." A male, embarking on a scientific education, may be allowed to "have an off semester," whereas a female, pursuing a scientific major, who struggles in a class or two, "has no talent."

        Serves to make females generally more inhibited.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:05:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The males are only repsenting themselves (6+ / 0-)

          While the females are representing all females, in the minds of the males.

          It's quite disconcerting, and can ruin performance.

          Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:34:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That was certainly my experience. (0+ / 0-)

          Back in the day, almost 40 years ago now, I was a 16-year-old college freshman in Honors Math classes. I had done relatively well in HS math, thanks in part to some wonderful mentoring by a very gifted math teacher. (I don't think it's irrelevant that he was an African-American teacher in an almost 100% Euro-American school district.)

          In college, though, I set impossibly high standards for myself. I was one of only two girls in at least one of my classes, and the other girl was truly brilliant. The sort of student who never had to take notes and still aced every exam.

          It never came that easily for me--but I was vulnerable to believing that it had to in order for me to be any good at all.

          Working on this dichotomous thinking, that either you're good at math or you're not, is really important, probably still significant for the involvement of girls in math-related fields.

          The other component is having good, supportive, encouraging teachers. It matters more for some of us than others.

          And, to add a sad contemporary experience: my younger daughter had a terrible math teacher in middle school--terrible because he was sexually inappropriate with many of his female students. (Yes, we complained to the administration and got nowhere at all. Changing teachers was our only option in the end.) I think her comfort with the topic was adversely affected by this experience, and it still has an impact, four years later.

          Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:38:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Fascinating. I took my first math degree in 1989. (17+ / 0-)

        Despite my obsessive work I rarely was  given better then B grades. I had one teacher tell me outright that he would never give me an A because math was a "mans" field. What was most interesting is that many times I turned in proofs  that I had let some male friend & classmate copy. So the proofs were exactly the same... I got a B or a C while they nearly always got an A. This happened in all my upper level math courses. Except for my superb Laplace transforms proofs... I spent 3 days doing them and they were elegant and beautiful. Not only my work but exams were graded the same. My friends and I compared our graded exams. The only differences were minor starting with my obviously female name. Identical points on my work leading to deductions as compared to nothing for the identical work on thiers. Again the same discrepancy in grading.  HERDING

        I graduated but was definitely discouraged from going further. This is even though while in college I provided a professor with my private work that allowed him to write up a paper in a journal proving that a common theorem in our text was wrong. But man, did I get good grades in topics that I regarded as cake walks but were considered appropriate topics for girls in the 80s. I called it HERDING.

        I ended up working as a Chemist mainly because I had a huge amount of lab experience and took chemistry classes for fun. So I am very skeptical myself when I hear how females are worse at math or science... there is a lot of discouragment in being ranked lower because of what you are and not the work you are doing. So blacks and handicapped or even ugly people have my empathic sharing. But even there I watched less qualified men given higher positions even though they frequently had to come to me for answers. This occurred so often that when we had some visiting lab chemists come through they thought I was the floor supervisor and started asking their questions directly.
        Seriously, sometimes women just decide that the  hassle and unlikely chance that you will be promoted to any degree makes many move on and out. Why bother against the steel doors? I knew many girls who didn't want to caught alone if they showed they were too good at "boy" subjects in high school. The only reason I lasted through college is that I was willing to fight to the death against the bullies and enforcers who kept everyone in thier place.

        When I joined the Air Force I wanted to become an air traffic controller but was slotted into med lab because that is where females uteruses pull them (obvious to the males making the decisions). After a year I applied for the program to send good soldiers to college... They said yes to nursing degree but I turned it down. Then near the end of my 4 years they offered to send me to become a physician assistant and I turned it down because i wanted to get a degree in math (I was obsessed with maths beauty & truth)... 2 years later when I was in college the USAF (through an officier who came around) offered to send me to MIT  to finish my double degree in math and computer science. By then I was so discouraged I refused. I had my son and I had work ... I was tired of fighting to be able to be taken seriously... I was tired of my femaleness being more important than my ability which was deliberately downgraded based on some kind of discounting to keep the serious stuff for the  boys.

        I hope it is better for young women but I fear that most still face this HERDING and social pressure to do what doesn't upset others. Thenthere is always the tool of rape to push em out. Now here comes the pouring forth of all the old prejudices.

        Fear is the Mind Killer...

        by boophus on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:36:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The girls are unlikely to volunteer (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene, GreenMother, LSophia, splashy

        It's a socialization thing, and it affects even homeschoolers.

        Maybe try giving out random colored or shaped tokens of some sort at the beginning of class. Pick demonstrators by token color/shape.

        •  Demonstrating on the board (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LSophia

          The problems we put on the board are the tricky ones that most of the kids do not see how to do, so I cannot pick randomly. The kids who volunteer to explain have to have the solution. They tend to be the same kids who make the highest scores on the written tests. If a weaker kid has the solution, they get called on preferentially. But most of the explaining by the weaker kids happens at the table level, with easier problems that the stronger kids already know how to do. (I have an enormous ability range). We will be putting a lot more problems on the board in May when we open up to prospective newcomers. I think I will keep a tally this year of exactly who volunteers to explain. The group is consistently about 1/3 girls. It is an optional activity, and kids have to make a minimum score on a readiness test. So I don't have any kids join the group who struggle with math. I certainly have prospective newcomers visit who struggle with math. And sometimes you can see the parent pushing as hard as they can for the kid to join, and the kid clearly hates it.

          •  This may seem like an odd question (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, Nannyberry, peregrine kate

            Note: When I encounter a problem, I tend to conjecture potential reasons and potential methods for addressing it. So, please don't take this as reflecting on your teaching, but rather as a myself puzzling "out loud" on the problem.

            I have no answers, just conjecture and curiosity. I'd love to hear what you learn over the rest of the school year.

            The question: Is demonstrating on the board the right methodology?

            I'm trying to imagine what I would do if I found that a portion of my students almost never grasped the material sufficiently to feel comfortable demonstrating it. If the methodology of "learn then demonstrate to the class" is consistently leaving some students out at that second step, what are the causes and the effects? For example, is it subtly discouraging the non-demonstrating students from trying harder, because they are convincing themselves that they aren't as "smart" as the frequent demonstrators?

            Is there another way to harness the strengths of the students who do grasp a concept to help other students grasp it, too? Would something different, like pairing off students at their desks to share with one another their respective methodologies for approaching the problem, lead to a different outcome?

            •  Two things are very different here (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, viral

              ... from a regular class.

              First, there is a huge range in where the kids are in a standard curriculum. I have a threshold math requirement, so they are all at least ready for pre algebra. But because the kids are all homeschoolers, the strong ones have been able to accelerate way beyond what is typically seen in a school. I have young beginners who are fuzzy about exponents in the same room with kids who have covered all of high school algebra and geometry and are at a pre-calculus level as middle schoolers. And I have first years mixed with fourth years. No kid is going to stick around for four years hearing exponents explained over and over for the beginners.

              Second, this is a team, not a class. And I am a coach, not a teacher. I do not have the same goals as a teacher. We are practicing for competitions. Most of the kids will never win a thing and do not really care about that. But the strongest kids care a lot about that. They need to be challenged at a level appropriate for them to have a shot at reaching their goals. I have some kids hoping for national level recognition this year. For the beginners, that is all years away.  Imagine a young gymnast with Olympic aspirations in the same gym as a bunch of youngsters walking shakily along a balance beam. I have the math equivalent to that.

            •  I never volunteered to go to the board (3+ / 0-)

              for anything my entire school experience! I also never volunteered to answer aloud. Shyness, lack of confidence, and fear of being wrong prevented me. I wouldn't take the chance of "making a fool of myself".

              I was actually a pretty bright kid, and ended up with an advanced degree and a successful teaching career. I've found many youngsters (many more girls than boys) just like I was. Scared to risk.

              •  Hell (0+ / 0-)

                I almost never volunteered even when I was 100% certain that I knew the answer. So it wasn't even being afraid of making a fool of myself (though often enough that was the case, if I had even the smallest doubt i would just not answer a question that i was almost certain i knew, instead I would just sit there quietly not saying anything at all and letting my superior patience make the teacher call someone else). Since school I have gotten more confident in this type of thing, but only a little bit, so I often enough still wonder why exactly I couldn't raise my hand to say the answer I knew was right.

                "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 01:57:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Peopel with Asbergers also tend to be blunt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey

        And not very diplomatic, so they are more likely to intimidate the girls/women. It can really hurt when they do their blunt truth as they see it.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:32:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You are aware that women in this culture (9+ / 0-)

      are socially conditioned to be timid right? So their skill level may be just fine.

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:40:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for sharing this sailing insight! :-) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, LSophia

      Join us at RASA: Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment. (Repeal will not ban guns, just help regulate them.)

      by Sharon Wraight on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:21:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Gooserock, women hang back because we learn (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, LSophia, Constantly Amazed, splashy

      to hangback or be punished as often as not, for being too bold.

      Still though, it's a cool story.

      •  That's for sure! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, chimene

        Too many times we think we are included, then some guy turns to us and with disdain makes sure we know we aren't, or aggressively pushes us aside and takes over.

        It hurts, and after a while you hang back out of fear of it happening again. You get to where you spend all your time watching for it instead of actually putting your mind to the task at hand.

        I can't tell you how many times it's happened to me, done by men that were clearly inferior to my abilities, in hindsight.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:44:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's a huge insight! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LSophia, chimene

      You may have hit upon the key technique to use in mixed gender studies.

      Draw out the girl/women first, so they are not intimidated/having-their-conditioned-button-pushed that says they are less than, then let the boy/man go second.

      The boy/man is not hurt, and the girl/woman is helped.

      Thanks for a great comment and much food for thought!

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:30:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think this has to be on a more (0+ / 0-)

        person by person basis. During my school time i was certainly the kind of person who would never volunteer to go first and i then always got more panicky after seeing other people answer something or do something, while a whole lot of the girls were always the most eager ones, often performing  best and being most outspoken. I don't know if I was in a very weird class, or if the culture in germany is that much different (which i doubt), or if this kind of thing isn't actually as genderbased as you think, but rather personality type based.

        Whatever the case, i like the idea of pushing the timid ones to perform first, its just that this sentence "The boy/man is not hurt, and the girl/woman is helped." rubbed me the wrong way.

        "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

        by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 02:04:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting quote from your post... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LSophia, chimene
      In a mixed gender learning setting women tend to function as the more timid learners, and the experience of hanging back at first seems to handicap them some. Men generally function as bold learners but the bold learners are independent enough not to be saddled by the burden of modelling others' behavior.
      Actually, I have observed that women and girls function boldly as learners, up to a certain age. By then we have learned, through some years of positive and negative reinforcement, that we are to hang back and defer to the boys, that it's somehow a shame and a bad reflection on us if we step up before a boy or look better than a boy. Really, this stuff is caught quite early because it is reinforced so consistently throughout our childhoods.

      If we treated boys and girls the same, the girls would be as bold as the boys.

      I'm amazed by people's courage and kindness in the face of everything and life.

      by LaraJones on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:24:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "up to a certain age"--puberty? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene

        Could be socialization. Could be hormones. Probably a mutual-reinforcement feedback loop involving both.

        Don't think I'm implying we should just throw up our hands and accept it. To the contrary--my wife is a computer programmer, and I have a daughter.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:09:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great comment. NT (0+ / 0-)

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:05:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I look forward to the continuation resesarch (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, GreenMother, blueisland, LSophia

    This part stuck out at me:

    But it’s these 20 high schools where the majority of the girls are coming from.” Those institutions range from Phillips Exeter Academy, an elite New England prep school, to a fistful of public high schools in Northern California, from Palo Alto to San Jose. By contrast, Ellison and Swanson note, half of the boys in the Olympiads come from about 200 high schools.
    ...
    Not all the best math schools are Exeter-style elite institutions; the San Jose high schools, for instance, do not represent economically privileged students. Moreover, only a small fraction of all well-off high schools nationwide are math powerhouses.
    San Jose is 32% Asian, Palo Alto is 27% Asian

    "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

    by randomfacts on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:47:14 PM PST

    •  Exeter! (5+ / 0-)

      My alma mater.  :D

      For all the issues I had with that place sometimes I do have to say that lack of a pleasant atmosphere for girls in the maths and sciences was not one of them.  Exeter had small classes, round tables for face-to-face discussion even in math classes (though not in science), and mostly amazing teachers.  Lots and lots of hands-on lab time, too.  I got to take physics my freshman year there (instead of the more typical junior year) pretty much because I was interested in science, and I wanted to.  With one exception in my senior year, never had anything but the best of encouragement from all my teachers.  Everybody learned to speak their minds there.  It was a terrific education.  (This was mid 80s, btw.)

    •  Your point is? What? Asians are better at math? (0+ / 0-)
      •  I'm thinking it may be the culture (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        randomfacts, mrkvica

        Of the Asians doesn't inhibit females as much when it comes to math.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:47:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I have not seen many Asian women who have (0+ / 0-)

          benefitted from their largely patriarchial families.

          •  I think the relevant cultural difference (0+ / 0-)

            has to do with the "American" tendency to believe that math ability is innate, period, and can't be nurtured much, versus an "Asian" tendency to believe that skills can be developed through practice, even if one doesn't manifest great inborn talent. (Quotation marks to indicate my awareness of making enormous generalizations here, which may not hold up when looking at the matter more closely.)
            Standardized tests don't help matters much, since IMHO they tend to measure what academic exposure one has had, along with cultural capital, and not so much one's ability or potential.

            Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:46:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  parents of profoundedly gifted (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              math kids bemoan the lack of recognition of how different their kids are. It is considered elitist in some circles to suggest that the way math is taught to the top 0.01% needs to be fundamentally different from the way it is taught to the middle third, or even the top 10%. This does not contradict your statement. There are many more potential geniuses born than there are adult geniuses. And that has to do with social and cultural factors.

              •  I don't disagree (and couldn't productively (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blueisland, kyril

                very well in any case, not having the time or inclination to look up any relevant studies).

                The question of genius is an interesting one. John Gatto, a renegade educator whose perspective I find compelling, once said that genius is as common as air. The problem being that such genius is not recognized or nourished in most, if not all, traditional school settings.

                That said, I don't doubt that the kids who test and perform at the upper outer limits of math could use and generally don't have the opportunities they could, and perhaps should. I myself benefited from being part of an experimental middle school gifted and talented program which I think without exaggeration saved my life. It is a terrible thing to be a young person who is terminally bored, hour after hour, in a classroom. But my talent in math was not off-the-charts, so I have no direct or scholarly experience to bring to bear.

                The global question is--what do we do to enable ALL children, ALL adults for that matter, to fulfill their intellectual AND emotional potential? To start, it shouldn't be considered a zero-sum game, which far too often it is.

                I'm grateful to you for putting in so much time and effort with your small club toward enhancing their abilities, one by one, and for sharing your thoughts about it with the rest of us.

                Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

                by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:47:08 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  thank you! (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  peregrine kate, kyril

                  and yes, too often there is a zero sum game in educating kids whose needs are outside the norm. I am also a fan of John Gatto's writing. Another writer who was a well regarded traditional teacher before deciding kids should reject school, was Grace Llewellyn. She has written a couple of books about alternatives, including the old but still relevant Teenage Liberation Handbook.

              •  my guess is that thats (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril

                the case with pretty much all particularly gifted people in a certain area. The best painters could probably benefit greatly from a different kind of art class than the average kid ect.

                "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                by Mudderway on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 02:08:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Girls do brilliantly in math in Russia (8+ / 0-)

    and Eastern Europe. But then Russians watch chess matches the way Americans watch football.  

    In American schools, only jocks are admired, because that's all most Americans can understand.

  •  In investment management (5+ / 0-)

    (not brokerage, but agency and trusts), women at my company were outnumbered about 5 to 1. In Iowa, I was the only woman at my company working as an investment portfolio manager from 1997-2009.

    As a Finance professor in the late 80s through early 90s, about a third of my students were female. When I taught again from 2010-12, about a third were female. No progress in bringing more women into the field.

    I have no explanation for that. Women graduate in accounting at roughly the same rates as men do. Women go into medicine and law and veterinary sciences at the same or higher rates than men. Women are entering engineering at greater rates than they used to. But not in Finance.

    I get to choose, and I choose love.

    by Melanie in IA on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:59:27 PM PST

    •  We are discouraged by other girls, and by teachers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LSophia, chimene

      very early on--as in elementary school.

      •  My point is, young women are NOT discouraged (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, chimene, mrkvica

        from entering other arenas with heavy mathematical or analytical skills required. But in Finance, they don't go there. That, to me, is a mystery.

        I get to choose, and I choose love.

        by Melanie in IA on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:46:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stock-trader, futures-trader gender studies. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Melanie in IA, chimene

          IIRC, male traders tend to make bigger bets. Thus they end up with more large gains and more large losses. Female traders tend to take less risk...and end up making more money for their clients in the long run.

          It is tempting to analogize this to hunter-gatherers...men fighting each other and killing fierce animals to impress each other and especially to impress the women. Women rolling their eyes at the men, and really thinking about which shrubs are likely to have ripe berries this week.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:14:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I believe I was very good at my job, (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HeyMikey, viral, chimene, mrkvica

            and believe I was better at my job than the other 3 men with whom I worked most closely. For us it was not a matter of risk-taking; it was a matter of housekeeping. I was better at MANAGING the assets, because I was more attentive. (I saw their accounts, too, when covering for them or doing peer-reviews, so I do have something to compare to.)

            In general, from what other co-workers told me, I also was better at communicating with clients, because I would meet them at their level. If they wanted a very sophisticated discussion of markets and economics, I could do that; if they wanted a superficial discussion of their account and a social visit, I could do that, too.

            To me it seems a natural fit for women. They don't see themselves in that role.

            I get to choose, and I choose love.

            by Melanie in IA on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:25:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Random reinforcement is most powerful motivator. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, Melanie in IA

              Psychologists and animal trainers have pretty much established that random reinforcement is the most powerful motivator. If you want to teach the dog to roll over, don't give him (or her) a treat every time he does it, or every third time, but randomly.

              Why do gamblers put money in slot machines for hours, pulling the lever over and over again? Random reinforcement.

              The male traders and their bosses (male and female) get random reinforcement from the male trading pattern.

              The female trading pattern is more like the house's...instead of putting money in the slot and pulling the lever, she buys stock in the casino.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:35:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Abuse from the men (0+ / 0-)

      Who are very competitive, is my guess.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:05:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I tutor calculus and physics... (9+ / 0-)

    ... part time at my university. Most people I tutor are engineering majors. I see very few girls who choose engineering as a career. Some of my professors have even remarked that there are less girls in the engineering program than than before, not more. So from what I see we're actually moving backwards on this, not forwards.

    I'm no social scientist, but it has to be because our society conditions girls to be timid and passive, to sit there and look pretty. It really annoys me when girls say that building bridges and cars and computers is "guy stuff". There has to be a way to get girls interested in science.

    Some would say that I'm off my gourd. I would say that I am a gourd.

    by Hubbard Squash on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:28:28 AM PST

    •  That, and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antimony, splashy, chimene

      stereotype threat.  We tell girls from infancy that they suck at math and science, have no spatial skills, can't read maps, etc etc and we're somehow surprised few chose to enter STEM fields, where they will be surrounded by men raised to think this way as well?  Men who will be largely protected from any consequences of dismissing or driving away women in those fields?

    •  Well ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueisland, HeyMikey, chimene, Flying Goat

      speaking as just one anecdote here: I loved science.  I hated taking courses in graduate school that were cross-listed with engineering, because they seemed to me to be nothing but nit-picking, navel-gazing detail, entirely lacking in any big-picture conceptual interest.  Nor, I admit, did I have the proper background in what I liked to call "working math" for some of it, so I struggled more than was usual for me.  (It also didn't help that my first such professor was a total hardass, as demonstrated by the fact that he insisted we work out all our cube roots long-hand, on paper.  In 1994 or thereabouts.)

      Anyway, long story short: science and engineering are actually very different disciplines despite that they tend to be lumped together in discussions like this one.  The skills required and the type of mind needed to stay interested and stick with it through the tough parts are also very different.  The reasons that girls do or don't go into one field might not be the same as the reasons they do or don't go into the other.

    •  I know this may sound kinda weird (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueisland, splashy, viral, chimene, mrkvica

      but I've recently started working on something that might help - Junior Sprockets.  It's a youth group devoted to STEAM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), and tied loosely to the steampunk subculture. The uniform is a lab coat upon which they can sew their patches and other awards. While the boys really like it, the girls that are participating go beyond liking it - they love it. They build robots, and learn to race remote controlled airships (and how to modify them), and have speed competitions to build things from various discarded parts of machines - and since we reward both best functioning and best looking, boys and girls race through happily and the girls are just as likely to make a good functioning piece as the boys.

      It's still a new group, and we're still working out bugs in the programming, but getting to dress up and play and earn badges while they learn seems to be a leveler gender-wise, so far.

      All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

      by Noddy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:52:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I rather appreciate the blog article (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueisland, chimene, mrkvica

      linked from the diary, particularly:

      A lot more men than women choose to do seemingly irrational things such as become petty criminals, fly homebuilt helicopters, play video games, and keep tropical fish as pets (98 percent of the attendees at the American Cichlid Association convention that I last attended were male). Should we be surprised that it is mostly men who spend 10 years banging their heads against an equation-filled blackboard in hopes of landing a $35,000/year post-doc job?
      Having been both a student and teacher at MIT, my personal explanation for men going into science is the following:

      1. young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
      2. men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"

      Consider Albert Q. Mathnerd, a math undergrad at MIT ("Course 18" we call it). He works hard and beats his chest to demonstrate that he is the best math nerd at MIT. This is important to Albert because most of his friends are math majors and the rest of his friends are in wimpier departments, impressed that Albert has even taken on such demanding classes. Albert never reflects on the fact that the guy who was the best math undergrad at MIT 20 years ago is now an entry-level public school teacher in Nebraska, having failed to get tenure at a 2nd tier university. When Albert goes to graduate school to get his PhD, his choice will have the same logical foundation as John Hinckley's attempt to impress Jodie Foster by shooting Ronald Reagan.

      (http://philip.greenspun.com/...)

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:43:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for these exerpts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        In spite of the fact that I am the original poster and I forward these two links regularly, I have not actually reread them recently. It is good to be reminded of how funny that second one is.

        •  It's a little dated (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueisland

          since 22 year old mortgage brokers are no longer making $150k a year, but there are a lot of very good points in it. When only 1/10 of worthy NIH project applications are funded, you gotta ask what is happening to the other 9/10 of the investigators. Unfortunately, many of them do leave science and generally that's a one way street; no easy path back in.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:47:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It HAS to be? (0+ / 0-)

      No, it doesn't. It may be, and it may not be. It's possible that no matter how we encourage them there will always be fewer women than men interested in engineering.

      It doesn't mean we shouldn't encourage girls, but when we claim that all differences between males and females are learned we go too far.

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 06:53:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I keep hoping things will change (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    viral, Noddy, splashy, HeyMikey, chimene, SeekCa, Dbug

    and maybe they are. Allowing women to serve in combat has opened up a whole new area of sexist comments from those serving as well as editorials and comments from the punditry.

    I've live it. I was born in 1955, when girls were supposed to dress up, be pretty and aspire to nothing more than housewife (or teacher or nurse if you were going to work). I didn't like that, or accept it, so I've always been sensitive to the answer, when I asked why I couldn't do something, "Because you're a girl."

    This answer always irked me because it had nothing to do with will or talent, only gender. You could be the best, but you weren't allowed in the club "because you are a girl."

    I love to play sports. You name it, I'll try it. And I've always been good, better than most boys when I was young, and better than some as I grew up. I was one of those always picked first, unless it was a situation where there were mostly boys. Then, the boys wouldn't choose me unless they knew me. Imagine the laughs when a boy choosing sides would pick me over a boy!

    Later, playing softball in Central Park (NYC), I would encounter it again and again - guys stepping in front of you, when you were clearly occupying a position (after all, you don't let a girl play shortstop or third base! Girls play in right field or at second where they can't hurt you!).

    One time, there was a friendly annual challenge game between UPI and Sports Illustrated. I'd just been hired by SI, so no one knew me yet. But the head of the UPI team was the coach of our women's team (his wife played as well and she worked for SI). Well, while choosing sides of those considered "unaffiliated" the UPI guy chose me. Then he inserted me at third base.

    Needless to say, the guys on the SI team decided they would "hit it to the girl" (I even heard a couple of them say that..."Hit it at the girl."). Well, that was OK, since it meant they went down in order for at least the first several guys who tried it!

    Not every woman will be cut out for combat, just as not every woman is cut out to be a firefighter or other jobs where brawn is a factor. But then, not every guy is cut out for those jobs either.

    We are entering an era when talent will out - if you can do it, you will be allowed to do it.

    That's a big step. Perhaps in a decade or two people will look back on these times and wonder why it was ever such a big deal that gays and women were finally allowed to serve openly. Let's hope so.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 05:56:24 AM PST

    •  My old softball team was similar... (4+ / 0-)

      When I was a judge's law clerk, the clerks on our court had a team that played in the Atlanta legal softball league.

      One woman on our team always had perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect lipstick, looked perfect in a tight uniform, and had perfect nails...except they were suspiciously short, which perhaps should have been a giveaway. When she came up to bat, all the opposing fielders would move in much closer to the plate.

      Then she'd blast it over their heads. Turns out she played in two semipro leagues.

      She was also a deadly pitcher.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:21:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I also home school. I do not teach math very well (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noddy, LSophia, Leftcandid, splashy, chimene

    at all. And because of the ideological lay of the land, I haven't been that involved with other home schoolers lately--locally. I have a few friends, but this area is heavy with uber-religious home schoolers. --religion is thick in the schools here too.

    So I bought a special math program for my kids, and it works great so far. It's an interactive program on a series of discs called Teaching Textbooks.

    We are nerds in this house and really enjoy it most of the time. But it can get lonely for me and the children. We often do not have people to talk to about science at all, except amongst each other.

    If this bullcrap, that is still so incredibly prevalent, I guess I shall also have to teach them how to document a case, and file complaints. It sucks, but what else can I do?

    I am very thankful that male teachers exist that really care and do something about this, but it appears that they may still be in the minority.

    Meanwhile girls and women still have to put up with their own kind practicing gender policing--which is why girls tend to be so timid. It's not just about impressing boys. Girls can be really mean to other smart girls if the smarty pants shines too much.

    Girl Cliques = Wolf Packs that prey on other girls. :(
    They imitate what was modeled for them in society, the home, everywhere.

    That's why we have female legislators who are so keen to take women's rights away. It's an extension of girl on girl bullying and gender and sex policing.

    •  Secular homeschooling (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, GreenMother

      I feel very fortunate to have done my years of homeschooling in a place with a very large community of non-religion based homeschoolers. But it was also mostly pre-Internet. So you have an opportunity I did not have, to be part of an online homeschooling community. Check out the website and consider signing up for the email list at:
      http://livingmath.net/

      I am not a male teacher btw, if that reference was to me. I am a homeschool mom whose child is grown up. I was also one of those girls who was pretty good at math and science in spite of limited encouragement, and who gravitated to medical school.

    •  Keep in mind that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, GreenMother

      most of the stories here aren't from 20something women.

      Some of this still exists, but it's much less prevalent than it used to be.

      Raise strong girls. Find them good peers. With this background, they will do well.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:47:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It depends on the major (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        I posted elsewhere in this thread about a female relative who was a physics major. They were awful to her. She switched majors and went to psychology and her very strong math background, esp in statistics was a great asset + the added bonus of no sexist assholes breathing down her neck trying to undermine her at every turn.  

        It was just awful. I thought what I went through in the military was bad,--I was also in a math intense training, and the males in the class were hostile little shits who needed to be spanked and then neutered. And it was, but 20 years later she is going through this in college? WTF!

        I am so unbelievably sick of this bullshit, that sometimes I have to choose whether to speak up at all or go on a full blown, insane rant.

        It's one of those magma hot things that lies just below the surface, and just when you think things are starting to normalize in the world, you start seeing it all over again. And it's the same old shit every time.

        It's so tired and so old, it's not even creative. It's not like battling a worthy adversary-no it's just a sexist zombie attack that never freaken stops.

  •  Strong STEM girls in other countries (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antimony, Noddy, LaraJones, chimene

    rserven points out that in the US

    ...deviation of males in mathematical ability is larger than that of women.  Although the mean for women is generally slightly higher than that for men, the upper level tends to be dominated by males.  Likewise the worst math students are also mostly males.
    It would be interesting to know if this is the case in Asian and Eastern European countries. I hope the researchers who analyzed the gender results on the AMC exams take a look at other countries. They all have internal exams leading to selection of the strongest 6 high school students in the country to compete at the Int'l Math Olympiad, which has been going on for 40 years. So 240 slots per country. It would be interesting to see a by-country break down of the percentage of those slots that go to girls.

    I have never seen an IMO. but I have seen the computer science version of it, the IOI (Intl Olympiad in Informatics). Almost no girls there. The Dutch used to bring two girls every year because it was required by their funders. They stopped because the pool of girls was so much weaker than the pool of boys at that level that they could not really compete. Interestingly, the US had never sent a girl to the IOI until recently. The girl who went was, I believe, from China. If not China, then one of the other countries that always does well at the IOI. She was in the US as an exchange student. Unclear if she was strong enough to have been selected to represent China. Their bench is quite a bit deeper than the US.

    •  matches my experience (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy, chimene

      I've had some really interesting conversations with non-US-born female colleagues in software engineering.  Two women from India agreed that there's no gender-based bias for software -- it's not seen as a male field like it is in the US.  (Note: I think there are cultural things around whether women go into a trained/academic field at all, and those differ from the US, but we haven't talked that much about those.  Just that once they're on the career path, software isn't seen as a gendered field.  They weren't discouraged from it, they weren't seen as odd, etc.)  

      People gripe about the software industry outsourcing, H1-B visa abuse, etc -- many companies may be doing it to maximize the bottom line, worker experience be damned, but there's also supply and demand.  If US girls were encouraged to go into the field, we'd have a lot bigger pool to hire from.  There are real shortages in the US in certain sub-fields and skill/experience levels.  

      •  There's a lot of friction in software hiring (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate

        and in many cases the "not enough workers" is about location, working conditions, salary, or very particular skills in a particular language.

        When salaries were high and demand was hot during the dot-com boom, kids of both genders were going into software left and right.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:53:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The one-child rule in China (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LSophia, chimene

      They were having a problem with too many girls being killed or aborted with their one-child policy, leading to a shortage of women, that they made sure that the parents knew that they would get all the benefits with girls that they would have gotten with boys. The culture had to change so that girls were just a valued as the boys.

      Because of that, the girls are getting more free education, and as good of an education, as the boys, without the bias. It can make a real difference in attitudes and development of abilities.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:13:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure it's culture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene

    Not inherent abilities.

    Because of the reaction of the women around them, they may over think it and think it must be harder than what it looks like from how others are reacting, and start thinking they are just not getting it or something.

    The thought process goes like this: "It can't be that simple, can it? If so, why do so many react like it's so hard? I'm not that smart, I must be missing something..."  

    Then they spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they are missing, and finally give up because they don't realize they aren't missing anything, it's that the other people are not getting it.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:41:57 AM PST

    •  Probably both. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rick Aucoin, chimene

      Testosterone is powerful stuff. It alters brain structure in utero and early life, and alters brain function throughout life.

      Culture is a mixture of appropriate reaction and overreaction to experience. It's generalization and overgeneralization.

      As I noted in another comment, there are both more males with genius-level IQs and more males with mental-retardation level IQs. IQ is highly dependent on genetics, but is also significantly influenced by environment.

      This is not at all a defense of prejudice. Each person, regardless of sex, should have equal opportunity to follow his or her dreams, and make the most of her or his abilities.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:28:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree it is parents. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, chimene

    I have a number of personal examples and reasions why I believe this is the case.

    My oldest son is now 4.  He has always hated getting his haircut, to the point where we just let his hair get long and if it gets too knotted or tangled we will TRY cutting it when he's asleep.  Usually that doesn't even work as he always knows when we touch his hair.  Despite being very much a boy - rammy, likes cars and "karate chops" - and clearly dressed in very boyish clothes, he is mistaken for a girl by adults literally 90% of the time.  And not just by old people and seniors, younger people as well.  People my own age.  I think only his teachers and other parents with long haired kids have actually taken time to look at him beyond his hair.  

    But his long hair bugs the HELL out of our own parents.  They hate it.  Absolutely hate it and never shut up about it.  It drives us crazy, especially since he looks good with long hair and likes having longer hair and will likely continue to have long hair even IF we can convince him to go for a cut.  It will just be cleaner and neater looking.  But our parents associate "hair cut" with that classiv 50s boy with pretty much shaved head.  that is how a boy's hair SHOULD look to them.

    Meanwhile, my cousin recently had a baby boy with her partner.  My cousin is one of 3 girls who, before this most recent addition, have had 7 girls between them.  One of the sisters had 4 girls and the reason?  They really wanted a boy and kept having girls.  So they kept trying hoping for a boy.  My cousin that DID have the boy?  From all I've heard, her partner really wanted a boy and seemingly would have been upset if he had a girl.  When I ask what difference it makes, I'm told the guy played hockey in high school and wants a hockey player.  I point out that girls can play hockey too but I guess that is crazy talk.

    My brother had a daughter and like myself doesn't have those same hang ups.  He gets that a girl can like sports or videogames or more stereotypical "girly" things.  He is now having issues with his long time best friend who had a son and seems to occassionally make comments that his kid (and himself as well) is better because its a boy.  

    Kids are their own people and individuals.  They like what they like and often are molded by their parents views/opinions, but not always.  My own friend had a daughter and played videogames with her and lego and he's really into music so he surrounded her with instruments...one christmas she said she just wanted dolls.  

    Now my examples are all small but I can't help but extrapolate those attitudes outwards.  If people have these strange, stupid and petty hangups over meaningless things (boys shouldn't have long hair, girls don't play hockey) what about bigger issues?   People tell their kids "You can do anything! You can be anything you want!" but are daily reinforcing these little "excepts".  You can do anything...except have long hair or play hockey.  So it doesn't surpise me that by the time many of these kids are in school, they have already been programmed themselves into those stereotypical gender roles and biases.

    I never thought of this before having kids of my own and now, it honestly makes me sad.  As a parent I feel I should encourage my kids to be the best people they can be and to experience things that interest them.  Anything less is obstructing them in some way or discouraging them or saying they aren't good enough.  We are limiting our kids, and by extension our society, when we insist on handicapping our own kids potential like this.

    •  How old are your parents? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene

      And what was your parents hair and style like when they were in their later teens and early 20's, just out of curiosity?

      *The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10*

      by Rick Aucoin on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:50:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In response (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene

        My parents are 56.  My wife's parents are in their 60s.  So they are a bit older.   They were born and raised on farms, so likely had a more conservative upbringing but they never raised me that way at all.  

        I was born when my parents were 20, so they started a family quite young. By 26 they had 3 kids.

        •  Still, 56? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chimene

          They'd have been in high school in the early 70's, the height of the Viet Nam anti-draft counterculture revolution, and a lot of people from small towns were a part of that.  Hell, Woodstock NY was a pretty small town.  Long hair, bellbottoms, polyester, VW Bugs with flowers painted on them.  That wasn't just San Fransisco, that was everywhere.

          And if her parents are in their 60's, then they were in high school in the mid 60's, and part of why the Beatles and shag haircuts were suddenly all the rage.

          Look for some old pictures, who knows, maybe they were part of the Uptight crowd, like the character Kevin Bacon played in Animal House.  :D

          *The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10*

          by Rick Aucoin on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:20:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Death by a thousand cuts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, LaraJones, chimene

    This is covered at length in a book called "Unlocking the Clubhouse". Problems start in childhood when the brother hogs the computer and continue from there until even people who enjoy the subjects decide their time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

  •  Two schools where I coach chess (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueisland

    One school has had almost all of the girls drop from the program, even though I have talked incessantly about girls in chess.  

    Another school is nothing like that.  It has girls attending tournaments, remaining in chess club, writing their school work about chess, and so on.  

    One school is not my daughter's school.  The other is.  Each school has roughly 50 kids in the chess program.  

    The difference is that my daughter was involved in chess, and then she started bringing her trophies.  She was an instant celebrity for her chess skills, and the kids in her class all started playing chess.  

    The other school didn't have that example being set.  

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 04:11:41 PM PST

  •  There is I think, a primal difference (0+ / 0-)

    between men and women. It would behoove us to recognize that we are a species divided -- not by politics, but by nature itself.

    Equal rights may be a good thing, depending on what is meant by that -- but we should never try to equate a woman with a man, because the two sexes are essentially different from one another, biologically and psychically, as well as physically.

    In our attempts to raise the status of women to a plane equal to that of men, there is a danger of obliterating femininity entirely.

    Personally, I don't see women dressed up in business suits, heading major corporations in imitation of their male counterparts, as being paragons of what the female sex is all about. I do not see, for example, Maggie Thatcher as being the best role model for aspiring feminists.

    •  I seem to be the missing-snark label scout (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      lately.
      What a preposterous comment. Truly.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:53:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Math team is too geeky (0+ / 0-)

    for my daughter. She is a 99% math achiever, but math team kids are just too nerdy for her (think Big Bang's Sheldon). She also does not like public competition. She is also a 99% reading/writing, which the math team kids are not. She can't get those guys to say one word to her (did I mention she's really pretty too?) She is proud of her abilities and intends to use them in engineering school and medical school (she is also very fashionable with expensive taste). But the stigma of math team nerdiness and the competitions kept her away from joining the team. I bet she's not the only girl like this. She will probably not be a PhD student either. She will be looking to make money, and as the linked article really made clear, University life is not a fast, easy or reliable route to financial success. As a point of interest, I, her mother, am a mechanical engineer, with a career on hold while I raise the best daughter I can (wonderfully supportive husband with good income helps!)

  •  I guess my question is...Where are women and men (0+ / 0-)

    treated with equal respect and regard?  Because if there is a place, I just might want to relocate.

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:54:53 AM PST

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