Are Men Actually Better At Math?
For a long time, it has been clear that women are not given the same opportunities for higher positions in STEM careers as men are, or women are less likely to go into the STEM fields at all. People who see this difference from an outside perspective may think that women are not as intelligent as men when it comes to math and science, but there actually is not a cognitive difference between genders.
A research team from Carnegie Mellon University examined brain development in 104 young girls and boys by using a functional MRI. The children ranged from three to ten years old and the MRIs were conducted as the children were given educational math topic videos to watch. A group of 88 adults were given the same videos to watch while undergoing an MRI. Afterwards, the brain scans of the children were compared to the adults and there was no significant difference in the brain scans of the girls and boys. This means that the way they processed the math skills shown in the video were identical between genders. The same research team also compared the results from 90 three to eight year old children, who took the Test of Early Mathematics Ability and concluded from the scores that there was no difference in math ability between boys and girls.
Since the issue does not trace back to the sheer mathematical abilities of boys and girls, the problem is rooted in a society that steers women away from joining the STEM field. There are not enough women in executive positions for other women in the field to look up to or be mentored by. Women are also paid less in STEM jobs compared to that of men, causing them to leave those jobs at disproportionate rates. There is not a solid support network for women in the education system, which causes women to be overlooked in classes that have a larger ratio of men, and even mistreated because they are the minority. The lack of support for women in the STEM field discourages them from reaching their full potential. Teachers need to administer education without seeing gender because if they do not, we will not be able to achieve equality in STEM. This does not just mean teaching without discrimination, but this also means encouraging the confidence levels of women who do not feel equal in a classroom full of men.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2019, November 8). Brains of girls and boys are similar, producing equal math ability. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191108074852.htm
Funk, Cary, and Kim Parker. “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 9 Jan. 2018, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/women-and-men-in-stem-often-at-odds-over-workplace-equity/.