Tag Archives: math

What do wine and maths have in common?

“Men are naturally seen as having more authority, whether or not they deserve it.”

“”I think it’s easier for people to believe that I don’t know things”

“I can’t really separate being a person of color from being a woman,” said Rao. “Sometimes as a critic that made me invisible in a way that was really beneficial. I was trying to pass unnoticed. Especially if I was with another woman of color, I felt like sometimes hosts didn’t notice us as much and servers didn’t pay as much attention to us. Even though it’s not ideal, it worked in my favor.”

“inextricably tied to each part of her identity, not just her gender. “I think it’s a conflux of things. I’m also a racialized person, also a queer person, also young, so a lot of these things intersect to really inform the way other people perceive me,””

“For Rodell, there is some tension between her roles as  a mother and a critic. ” . “There’s so much written and talked about already in terms of how hard it is for women to have any kind of high-powered or time-consuming career and have a family, let alone one that takes you out of the house at dinner time every night,” she said. “I don’t regret it because it is the way that I supported my family.” Still, she wonders if male critics get the same kinds of questions and guilt trips. “I’m sure that it’s tough on [male critics’] family too, but I do think that it’s a fairly new phenomenon that men are really expected to participate in the domestic life of their families.”

“I don’t think that there’s gender equality at this point to say that there’s a lot of partnerships out there where the male partner would be happy to do that.”

“Not everyone had stories of […] sexism at the ready. “I don’t feel discriminated against, and I don’t feel that people have given me special treatment because I’m a woman. I’ve always been a feminist, and I think it’s a really good thing that I don’t feel in my line of work that my gender has stood in my way at all.”

“Ho has noticed from the mail she receives that some do assume she’s the one with a bias — against white men.”

“He said, ‘It seems like he had many of the same conclusions you did, so I’m starting to think what you said may have been true.’ I was just floored.”

“Women have better palates than men,”

quotes from: “No one suspected me”: Women food critics dish on dining out for a living. Salon, 2 Feb 2020

https://www.salon.com/2020/02/01/no-one-suspected-me-women-food-critics-dish-on-dining-out-for-a-living/

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Calculus is key for STEM gender gap: new research 

The pipeline that funnels women into careers in math and science is leaky all the way along along, but if one particular leak could be plugged, it might make a dramatic difference. Researchers have identified one change that would increase the number of women in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) by 75 percent.

http://www.vocativ.com/347023/the-calculus-confidence-gap-affects-women-in-stem-more/
(Cartoon: New Yorker)

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Let’s reclaim the fun of maths!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here is a fittingly optimistic read about how to make maths fun and exciting for the new generations to come:

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/5-year-olds-can-learn-calculus/284124/

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Young US women in STEM

Depressing slide from Margaret Eisenhart and Carrie Allen’s paper at the AAA2015 (American Anthropological Association meeting) in Denver.

  

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Girls, math, and bullshit

After 9 years in the UK, I’ve reconciled myself to the realisation that I will always remain a foreigner. When I’m stressed, like when speaking to my bank on the phone today, my spoken expression and listening comprehension skills in English go out of the window. If someone woke me up at night, I’d speak to them in Bulgarian (my native language), but if I were really fast asleep, it would be Russian (my mother’s tongue which I learnt first).  But what is especially hard for a social scientist is that I am unable to overcome some taken-for-granted ideas that I had before coming here, and get used to their opposites which should be obvious to me. This evening I’m reminded of one: women and maths. This stuff is doing my head in. Each time I read about it, I get a headache. You know that peculiar blackout feeling when you hear something that is either blatantly, in-your-face, unjust or untrue, or something whose premises are so flawed that it’s not even wrong. I get that each time I encounter the obvious, common knowledge that women and math don’t mix. I just found an article about Shirley Conran’s new project aiming to make maths attractive to girls by convincing them that it will help them manage their personal finances. The article had the awesome title “Math is a feminist issue”, and it linked to what must be a very interesting and useful new report on women and the fear of mathematics. I’m sure it’s a very useful report. I must read it for my research. But I am stuck with the pdf like a horse in front of a river. I can’t read it because just reading the chapter titles makes me wince:

“1 Why maths and maths ability for women matter 13

2 Why confidence about maths ability matters 19

3 How do we know that women fear maths? 25

4 Why is maths perceived to be innately male? 29

5 Being female 37

6 Women’s education in history and the place of maths within it 47

7 Attacking the Maths Myth that drives the Fear Factor”

Clearly, I must have grown up with a different Myth. I grew up with the conviction, supported by empirical observations, that girls are better at all subjects. I don’t know why. And because I never had a reason to question this belief at the time I was at school or university, now I’m finding it really hard to accept that things are so obviously not the case. I don’t even know if my belief was justified about Bulgaria in general, or about Bulgarian “elite” primary and secondary schools. I may not be. Maybe I grew up in a bubble (a bubble in which all but one of my maths teachers were women, like almost all my other teachers; and in which schoolkids who were good at maths were equally likely to be girls or boys, and those who weren’t were more likely to be boys).

But I like having grown up in a bubble. I like the fact that the obviousness of “girls don’t like math, girls are no good at math” pisses me off. The really painful thing is that with each new item of information on the “women and maths” subject, doubt and desperation trickle in. I fear the thought that, if I had heard of this at a younger age, this belief might have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and would have made me worse at maths – and worse at believing in my own capabilities, talents and worth. I hate the thought that there are young people out there growing up right now who entertain the freaking insane belief that interest and talent in various parts of human culture may have anything to do with their genitals.

Even less rationally, reading stuff which generalises a whole gender into one box according to a negative criterion, such as lack of ability or fear, makes me uncontrollably angry. When you, as a woman, read something like this, you just can’t win. If you happen to be bad at maths or hate it, well, there, there, little darling, we said it first, women suck at math. If you happen to be good at maths or like it, then you are not a woman, you’re an honorary man. &%£$@£$&?{}$£% Rage is not a good companion to research. Imagine, my research isn’t even about gender, actually, it’s about all mathematicians regardless of their gender. Imagine how angry I’d be if I were actually studying gender.

Incidentally, most of the female professional mathematicians I have talked to say that they were never aware of a negative gender stereotype in relation to maths when they were little. When they did realise it (often upon arriving to university), it was not a pleasant realisation.Some say that they were aware, but consciously rebelled or ignored it.

Perhaps we ought to not just combat the stereotype, but also shield from it those young kids who are lucky to don’t know about it yet…at least until they are old enough to be brave and rebellious rather than conformist?

P.S. Upon rereading, this sounds like an unusually personal and non-rational research-related blogpost. Unprofessional pubic expressions of unpolished thoughts, tut-tut. But it will have not been in vain, if it helps me at least read that report which, I’m sure, has lots of interesting and depressing data…

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What should we teach to liberal arts students who will take only one math course?

Interesting discussion about what and how much mathematics university students on liberal arts courses in the US should know on mathoverflow – here

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Maths, Math or Mathematics?

I hear different opinions. Is it merely a matter of preference, and what are the reasons behind the different preferences? It seems that “maths” is preferred by British speakers and “math” by American ones. I don’t know about Canadian and other English speakers. Any ideas?

By the way, the title of this blog is “matters mathematical” (a) to avoid both short versions of the word “mathematics” and (b) because “Coffee and Pi” was already taken. Oh, and it’s a quote from this song:

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