Yet MORE evidence math skills are not an innate ability:

Davis-Kean and colleagues analyzed how parents’ values and attitudes affect children’s math performance and later interest, and how these attitudes vary by the child’s gender. They used data from a longitudinal study of more than 800 children and a large group of their parents that began in 1987 and continued through 2000.

They found that parents provided more math-supportive environments for their sons than for their daughters, including buying more math and science toys for the boys. They also spent more time on math and science activities with their sons than with their daughters.

Another interesting paper:

Gender stereotyping and calculus performance

I’d like to blame that C- in Calc 2 on this; but it was probably the beer consumption during college. (And that’s not innate either!)

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I was once in the room while a female acquaintance of mine, a university undergraduate at the time, was arranging a tutoring session on the phone. At one point, I could tell she got really flustered, but she kept her tone even and concluded the conversation cordially. After she hung up, she told me that she’d been speaking with the aunt of a high-school student who needed math help for her SAT. “You know how girls are,” the aunt had said. “She just doesn’t get math.”

    My friend and I enjoyed a good explosion together about that.

  2. I’d like to have something to blame for my C in first semester Calculus in college. I didn’t even drink beer then. I’ll have to work on that (the excuses, not the beer). I’m also reminded of a furor that erupted some years back because one of the phrases uttered by the new Talking Barbie was “Math is tough.”

  3. Yes, and then there was the really wonderful prank where they took talking GI Joe and Barbie, and switched the speech chips.

  4. I placed out of Calc in university (Advanced Placement, the most difficult exam I ever took), but when I was later tutoring my administrative assistant, who was going back to college in her later years, I suggested that, instead of being afraid of math, she solve lots and lots and lots of problems. She did (as I had in high school) and it worked for her. She aced her course.

    Familiarity breeds familiarity.

  5. My personal high-water mark is trigonometry – the only class I ever dropped in college was pre-calculus! I think my experience would help even out that survey, lol….

Comments are closed.