Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Girls Are Better at Math, But ...," by Maia Weinstock. Discover, September 2003.

The article quotes psychologists Jacquelynne Eccles and Mina Vida (at theUniversity of Michigan) who propose that women are rare in mathematics-basedfields like physics and engineering not because of fear of math but because ofsocialization. "The data [based on interviews and questionnaires] indicate thatgirls' math abilities outpace boys' through high school, but the girls eschewmath-oriented careers because they do not believe such careers are valuable tosociety." Pamela Davis-Kean (codirector of Michigan's Gender and AchievementResearch Program) suggests that girls have math ability (many go into thebiomedical sciences) but that an earlier influence---parents---affects thevalue girls place on mathematics.

--- Annette Emerson