Girls Shy Away from Math Because it’s not “Feminine”

Have you heard the old “fact” that boys are better at math and science than girls, but girls are better at reading and writing? For a long time, I thought this really was the truth. However, in reality, the two genders are actually equal in all fields when they begin elementary school.

Sadly, by the time the students are in 8th grade, boys are twice as likely as girls to be interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and the careers that can be formed from these education tracks. By high school, many girls are even less interested in these subjects and, therefore, are less likely to take AP classes while also more likely to have lower SAT scores on the math section of the tests.

So why do girls seem to have less of an interest in these subjects? According to True Child, it is because “these trends are connected to girls’ perception of STEM as masculine and their internalization of feminine norms. Girls are caught in a ‘double conformity’ bind, in which they must opt out of femininity or opt out of STEM.”

What this means is that many girls feel like they must choose between their femininity and STEM classes. This feeling that they must choose comes around third grade, which is also when the girls “start noticing the boys” and also realize that they cannot be both pretty and smart. This idea seems to continue into adult, when many female engineers report they must choose between proving they are either “real women” or  “real engineers.”

Personally, I think it is very sad that girls feel that they can’t be both pretty and smart. However, I also think that our schools might be doing things to encourage girls’ dislike of STEM subjects. My friend, Jamie, used to love math until she got into middle school. Then in seventh grade, her math teacher accused her of cheating because she had done better on a math test than any of the boys in the class, and ever since then, Jamie hasn’t like math as much. Obviously, Jamie was very good at math, but since her teacher forced traditional gender-and-education stereotypes on her, she did not continue to flourish in the STEM classes and instead studied journalism and professional writing in college.

So, what do you think? Is this all a bunch of hogwash or is there some merit to these claims? Share your opinion below in the comment section!


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