Stereotypes of expectations between girls and boys in the academic world have been around for eons. Just saying the title opens many feelings and opinions. Have you ever heard that girls don’t need to do math, boys don’t need to sit and read? How does society’s viewpoints affect our children?
Math based careers such as engineering and scientist are generally looked at as careers for boys. The myth: boys are better at math than girls. In the July 25 issue of Science (Vol. 321, No. 5888), Janet Hyde, PhD, a psychology and women’s studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues, dismissed the perceived gender gap in math performance by analyzing math test scores from 7 million students, grades two through 11. The team collected standardized math assessments from 10 states and analyzed the scores for male and female students. They found no difference in average performance. If those are the facts, then why do we see boys dominating these fields over girls?
The answer is simply due to the antiquated views of society. Girls aren’t told that they can do it. They aren’t encouraged to work at it. If math starts getting difficult, they are given the excuse: well you are a girl it’s okay to give up. Girls aren’t pushed to keep trying. The result is girls telling themselves that math isn’t for them because of their gender. They quit because they want to fit in to what society tells them is normal. Buck the system ladies, study math!
Growing up I was always the reader while my brother avoided books like the plague. It seemed normal. Boys are supposed to be active while girls are quiet and studious. Girls generally start out being more interested in books than boys. But instead of encouraging the boys to keep trying it is dismissed and pushed aside. The result: is by twelfth grade, more than twice as many girls as boys (5% versus 2%) scored as “advanced” in reading on the 2015 NAEP.
Again, the answer is simply due to the antiquated views of society. Boys are led to believe that they should be outside playing in the mud with cars over chilling out and reading a book. Because learning to read and enjoying reading doesn’t begin with the same enthusiasm with boys doesn’t mean it should be to the side. Some of the most interesting men in the world read books. So, gentlemen, pick up a book!
As I investigated this subject, I find that the way society views the skills girls and boys should and shouldn’t have undermines their confidence in those subjects. When these skills start to be challenging, we are told to let them go. Excuses are made. The ability of children should never be underestimated or determined by their gender. They need to be encouraged and guided on how to work through any frustration when learning a new skill or developing old ones. They can do anything if they are allowed to believe that they can!
Let’s change the world little ones!
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher