Sunday, June 1, 2008

Math and Gals

You think they don't gel? Well, that's the exact reason why they don't gel. This attitude, the gender bias, is directly related to math skills in girls.

Found one interesting study by Kellogg School of Management.

They claim that math skill in girls is direct indication of the gender equality. So countries that have lesser gender bias have girls having better math skills than those countries with higher bias. Mathematically high correlation was found between women "emancipation" and absence of gender gap in math skills. In fact the effect is observed from a very young age. So that means from a very young age it is ingrained into them that boys are smarter and intelligent.

Another Indian study also says that, gap in math skills "are not because boys are inherently better in mathematics than girls, but due to social messages encouraging boys to do better in this subject and probably discouraging girls".

Isn't it quite obvious when you come to think of it? And there are so many other skills that are very much a product of such social conditioning. Such as sensitivity (women are supposed to be more sensitive), understanding and other such motherly qualities. To prove this wrong I would like to bring to your notice the fact that, societies with equal opportunities are seeing a rise in divorce rates and rise in number of single working women. India too has seen a spike in divorce rates and I think it is something to be celebrated (as opposed to the moral police in our country) as it implies equal opportunities for women.

I have a question. Consider the population of women having better math skill than their male counterparts in a society with high gender bias. Would these women be open minded and feminist, as a rule (another angle to this finding)? I think they would. What do you say?

6 comments:

  1. Good food for thought!
    I agree that the social conditioning has much to do with not just maths, but any other form of education. This disparity is even more marked in countries with a similar social fabric as that of India.
    However, I do not agree that in a society with women having better math skill than their male counterparts, the women would be more open-minded and feminist. Scientifically, I would want to prove it by saying that studies have proven that social equality causes equality in mathematical abilities. But that doesn't prove the converse.
    At a more personal level, I have not necessarily spotted any correlation or cause-effect relation between education opportunities and open-mindedness. Intuitively, I had always believed that education does open up the mind to new ideas and experiences. But I have sadly realized that this is true only to a limited extent. Education (or maths) has yet not reached the personal DNA of peoples' lives.
    A better indicator of open-mindedness would probably be travel, i.e. if you have stayed at different places, you tend to adapt and be open to more ideas and personal experiences.

    P.S.: Some of the differentiation in qualities among genders may not be attributable to social conditioning, like sensitivity. I believe thats just natural, given the physiological differences between men and women.

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  2. First, the part about girls doing worse in math, I have seen so far that most girls have done better than boys in both 10th and 12th results. I would not know how the performances compare in math alone.
    In India, the social conditioning must be more related to the physical activity and doing outdoor work.
    There are other reasons for gender characteristics, like testosterone is supposed to make you calculative(related to math), aggressive etc. Estrogen makes you communicative, emotional. The reasons why these do not map exactly as women's and men's characteristics are because women also have testosterone and men also have estrogen, some have even more than many members of the other gender.

    But i do agree that there is a lot of social conditioning that also shapes up these characteristics. This is something like the "most read" part in a news website, the most clicked news gets clicked on even more because it appears there. I tend to disagree that social conditioning can be so strong to be creating and erasing characteristics altogether.

    Also, why should only single and working women be considered liberated? Every woman who is able to make her own choices should be considered liberated.

    Now at the risk of being branded a moral cop, i would also say that i lament that the divorce rates are increasing, because it is a sign of irresponsibility. I have seen the impact it has one family, esp. kids and i hope that people would actually find partners for life instead.

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  3. hey assman, the whole point is that the study "proves" that math skill ARE related to women emancipation. They have come to that conclusion after sientfically studying population from various countries. So I think I would consider their judgement a closer to truth.
    Secondly, why do you think there were lesser divorces earlier? It was plainly and simply because women had no opportunity to make a living if they leave their husbands. They were not financially independent. And not because of the so called family values. And that is why "Studies" have "proven" that in countries where women are financially independent, divorce rates have gone up.
    But to satisfy you and reassure you that independent women are not out to leave men altogether let me tell you one more thing that the is observed. After the initial increase in divorce rates in these developed countries, they tend to stabilise at an average rate, which can be contributed to the fact that in the mean time men learn to treat their women as equals.

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  4. Well, here's what I understand out of all this back and forth communication:

    1. Men and Women are designed to be different (Proof: Testosterone and Estrogen)
    2. Women + Education = Men + Compelled to treat Women as equals || Risk being divorced.
    3. Higher Math Skills = Educated Women = Decision-making Women = Independent Women.
    4. Higher Education Levels => Initially Divorced Rates shoot up and stabilize.
    5. Lower Education Levels => Lower Divorce Rates since Women have nowhere to go!

    Well...

    I get all of this fine.

    But I still do not understand why the "feminist" Women forget that it is not Education, nor Math Skills, neither Independence and NOT Decision-making that every creature in the Human Race seeks.
    It is POWER.

    And God forbid if I dare to say that men are more powerful than WOMEN!
    No doubt the World is fighting over Food, Water and Oil today, but the major battles in mortal Menfolks lives have been fought over the ALMIGHTY WOMEN!!!!

    Anyone remembers Ramayan, Mahabharat and Troy?! :-)

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  6. Well,

    a great thought indeed.... woman emancipation is indeed a matter of thought in our country.... although, i do not think its a matter of worry anymore.... woman are coming up big time not only in terms of mathematics but everything else...

    PS: By the way, if i born as a women in next seven births, i would "prefer" staying away from a disease called "mathematics" ;)

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