__August 6, 2017__

**How Euclid Ruined Women's Lives By Taking Up Math And Logic Instead Of Creating New Forms Of Sewing And Childcare**

A professor, Luis A. Leyva, is dismayed -- along gender studies lines! -- about the "masculinization of mathematics through qualitative methods."

Um...huh?

Doesn't he mean quantitative?

Also...does math have a penis?

If so, can we draw a little face on it with a Sharpie between class periods? (Sorry...got a little carried away there.)

This little gem from Leyva comes out of a @Toni_Airaksinen piece:

ICYMI: Math is a "white and heteronormatively masculinized space" that causes girls to do bad, prof argues https://t.co/XjoPbMqGkg

— Toni Airaksinen (@Toni_Airaksinen) August 5, 2017

From a subhead over Toni's piece:

According to Professor Luis Leyva, children are implicitly taught from an early age to associate innovat[ive] problem-solving with masculinity while viewing conformity and "meekness" as feminist traits.

("Feminine traits," I think that's supposed to be.)

Once again, we find a gender studies nitwit confused about biology. Women, generally speaking, yes, evolved to be more acquiescing.

How many women do you know who have started a bar fight -- the kind where a bunch of, um, *people* end up breaking furniture over each other's heads?

More broadly, as Simon Baron-Cohen has pointed out, females tend to be empathizers while males tend to be systematizers.

Systematizers:

• Possess a drive to analyse and explore a system - such as a vehicle, a computer, a maths equation, or even an army unit - to extract underlying rules that govern a system's behaviour; and the drive to construct systems.

• Intuitively figure out how things work, or what the underlying rules are.

• Repetitive behaviour, preoccupation with arranging things, obsession with detail.

Empathizers tend to be female and:

• Show the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion.

• Intuitively figure out how people are feeling, and how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

• [Are] Not preoccupied with patterns or repetitive events. Relaxed about details.

This systematizing/empathizing sex difference plays out in the interests women and men have -- and in the jobs they take. (And sure, there are individual differences -- like in how a great many or most women want to have babies, and how I will only ever have a child if one sneaks into my house and takes up residence in a closet for several weeks.)

These sex differences are right in line with sex differences in hormonal profiles -- how males have higher testosterone and women tend to be higher in the bonding-associated hormone oxytocin (which men's greater testosterone tends to slap down, anyway).

And this sex difference in boldness, and especially physical boldness, also shows up early on in how fearful and physically self-protective girls are compared to boys.

Getting back to Toni's piece, of course, in the math arena, what we have to worry about isn't that white guys do especially well at math; it's that so many lazy, softie Americans are getting their mathematical asses beaten by kids from India and China.

Or, as I tweeted in response to Toni's piece:

Whineypants: "Field of mathematics is a 'white'..." Right. Walk down hall in univ engineering dept. Every other office "Singh," "Chen," "Lu" https://t.co/EIQ3WLWfZW

— Amy Alkon (@amyalkon) August 6, 2017

*****

Good write up about these issues at:

http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320

Snoopy at August 6, 2017 6:10 AM

Your tweet is right. It's not unusual to hear of complaints that students have trouble understanding the teaching assistants (read that as "graduate students") because almost none are native English speakers.

When I was an undergrad in the math department, there were quite a few faculty members - particularly younger ones - who were foreign.

On the other side, the advanced classes were typically difficult for the students... over half of whom tended to be foreign (while the advanced courses were often taught by older American professors).

I remember fondly when a group of Chinese women who sat near mean were puzzling over something the professor said/wrote. It was an example of multivariate regression involving squirrels... and none of the foreigners sitting near me knew what a squirrel was. They eventually turned to me for help.

Shannon at August 6, 2017 6:13 AM

I had trouble back at U of M. We had a Chinese TA who taught lectures in one of my classes. Could barely understand a word.

The squirrel thing is hilarious.

And re: Gizmodo thing, that may still lack hyperlinks and charts that were in the original.

There are a lot of studies that I see basically "backgrounded" in it, because I read so much social psych literature every day. The person seems to have either social science training (on a Ph.D. level) or to read a whole lot of it.

Amy Alkon at August 6, 2017 6:18 AM

I had a guy with a thick Indian accent who taught thermodynamics. We went over power plant design and most people kinda got what was going on based on the drawings, but you always ended up throwing the whiskey into the sea. One of my friends got mad and went on a rant about how they should just give all this whiskey to him instead of polluting the oceans. After a while I mentioned it was waste heat not whiskey.

Ben at August 6, 2017 6:43 AM

Ben...reminds me of a comment by CP Snow. A translation of an engineering treatise of brick-making included the phrase 'water goats.' No one reading it could imagine what use water goats were in the brick-making process (if indeed there is such a creature)...until they realized that the original phrase was 'hydraulic ram'.

David Foster at August 6, 2017 7:37 AM

One of the more astounding stories I'd heard was from a fellow gradual student who was taking a grad level intro calculus class from the math department.

First day he realizes he's probably in for trouble, as it's a lot of Chinese students and they're probably already better at it than he is. After the first lecture he's thinking he should drop the course, he couldn't really understand the prof.

What clinched the drop was when the Chinese students came over and asked him if he could understand the prof because they were having problems understanding him.

Whoops.

I R A Darth Aggie at August 6, 2017 8:39 AM

If you want your children to excel in math, whether they are boys or girls, nothing beats daily math practice. I know this bc that has not only been our family motto (A day without math is like a day without sunshine), but the way we live our lives. My daughter is not a natural math student, but with consistent work she has developed her skills over the years to the point where math is now her best subject, she is hoping to get a degree in bioinformatics and her SAT score places her in the top 5% of students nationally. It's not magic, genes, or gender...just hard work done on a consistent basis. ANYONE can do it, you just have to want it bad enough.

Sheep Mom at August 6, 2017 8:40 AM

Culturally, asians, especially Chinese (that I know about), believe that math is a skill that anyone can do --it simply requires hard work. Americans are more likely to believe it is based on inherent (genetic) ability, and thus give up more easily if they aren't good at it.

The idea that math is "masculine" is goofy in the sense that math doesn't care at all about who you are or where you are from. The right answer is right. It is much easier to be discriminated against in subjective subjects (like x - studies courses).

cc at August 6, 2017 9:23 AM

White? The Greeks drew on the Egyptians for training in math and magic. Egypt is in Africa. Our current numerals are Aarabic in origin. The father of Algebra was from Bagdhad. Yeah, recent developments have been heavily White these past couple hundred years but that will change as the cultural center of civilization shifts.

Pythagoras had women in his schools, there were female mathematicians throughout the centuries such as Lovelace, Hypatia, Agnesi but as in other professions, since historically women work less outside the home, more men exist doing those things.

How silly

Nicolek at August 6, 2017 9:57 AM

With all due respect to the immortal Humphrey Bogart, "Here's lookin' at Euclid!"

Patrick at August 6, 2017 10:19 AM

Amy you'll be interested in the latest internet outrage - it touches on these issues.

http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320

A google engineer has written a critique of Google's diversity programs and has provoked a huge furor.

It's best to read what he's written rather than go by media accounts, most of which are dishonest.

He's actually written a pretty even-handed science based account of why the distribution of engineers and executives may differ between men and women. He recommends ways to address that without resorting to coercion and quota hiring.

Norm at August 6, 2017 10:50 AM

Know what I love about those discussions Snoopy?

Everyone's like, 'Oh was a (x)ist person'

No one ever uses any scientific knowledge, or logic to explain that they are wrong

lujlp at August 6, 2017 11:20 AM

I read somewhere that language can influence mathematical abilities at an early age. Fluency in Chinese engenders the greatest fluency in math early on; mostly due to the way it organizes numbers.

It's a

Wall Street Journalarticle behind a pay wall, so I'll include some excerpts:Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish use simpler number words and express math concepts more clearly than English, making it easier for small children to learn counting and arithmetic, research shows.AND

The trouble starts at "11." English has a unique word for the number, while Chinese (as well as Japanese and Korean, among other languages) have words that can be translated as "ten-one"—spoken with the "ten" first. That makes it easier to understand the place value—the value of the position of each digit in a number—as well as making it clear that the number system is based on units of 10.English number names over 10 don't as clearly label place value, and number words for the teens, such as 17, reverse the order of the ones and "teens," making it easy for children to confuse, say, 17 with 71, the research shows. When doing multi-digit addition and subtraction, children working with English number names have a harder time understanding that two-digit numbers are made up of tens and ones, making it more difficult to avoid errors.AND

The U.S.-Asian math-achievement gap—a sensitive and much-studied topic—has more complicated roots than language. Chinese teachers typically spend more time explaining math concepts and getting students involved in working on difficult problems. In the home, Chinese parents tend to spend more time teaching arithmetic facts and games and using numbers in daily life, says a 2010 study in the Review of Educational Research by researchers at the Hong Kong Institute of Education and the University of Hong Kong.AND

In math, one concept builds on another. By the time U.S. students reach high school, they rank 30th among students from 65 nations and education systems on international achievement exams, while Chinese and Korean students lead the world.Conan the Grammarian at August 6, 2017 11:46 AM

In math, one concept builds on another. By the time U.S. students reach high school, they rank 30th among students from 65 nations and education systems on international achievement exams, while Chinese and Korean students lead the world.

Conan the Grammarian at August 6, 2017 11:46 AM

The math textbooks in the US are terrible, and the teachers are even worse.

Look at a 1930's math text which anyone with a basic arithmetic background could pick up, and teach themselves math, and then compare it to a moden textbook massaged and obfuscated by the educarats and you will understand why it is so difficult for people to learn math.

A guy by the name of John Saxon wrote math textbooks that had the kind of drill and repetition necessary to master math concepts and they were rejected by most school districts for being "boring".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Saxon_(educator)

I have found as a somewhat dyslexic woman, the only way I can learn anything involving spatial relationships is through lots of repetition.

How many times did I have to take a 1911 completely apart to learn the order or operations? About a hundred, and if I dont do it again, every few months, I forget.

Playing a musical instrument is the same sort of repetitive skill which is why there is a connection between learning music and math.

Isab at August 6, 2017 12:35 PM

I actually learned math from Saxon's text books. They are excellent. Though Saxon has died by now and the new text books put out from his company are reverting to the mean.

My parents got fed up with the schools when I got in trouble in a math course and the teacher jargonized everything. After being looked down on because he couldn't foil some numbers he looked up what foil ment and got quite ticked off. If she said polynomial multiplication or even binomial multiplication he would have understood but new math largely means change all the words so no one know what the hell you are talking about. See number line and common core for another example.

Ben at August 6, 2017 3:32 PM

Math textbooks in Latin America by proxy are also terrible. They're pretty much awful localizations of the American ones. Not only because of the translation but also the formulae have to be converted to really old-school math.

As in, old formulas with the old syntax, not the streamlined, tailored for computer software formulations.

Sixclaws at August 6, 2017 4:32 PM

"The math textbooks in the US are terrible, and the teachers are even worse."

Oh yeah, it's an absolute disaster. Sometime in the 1960s, the humanities people (who are the ones who write and approve the textbooks) turned their backs on math and science. It's a point of pride with some of them now that they are innumerate. I can't tell you how many times I've seen an article about math education written by a journalist that starts with "I can't even balance my checkbook, but...".

The top level of the math profession is actually quite international now. Major contributions are coming from India these days. China's not really at the top of the profession yet, but they are catching up. Russian mathematicians have always had a lot of innovative ideas, but a lot of it was buried in Cold War files and some probably still remains there today.

Cousin Dave at August 7, 2017 7:15 AM

There is a really good reason the USSR had such top tier mathematicians. For some reason Stalin liked mathematicians. If you worked on theoretical math you just about never got sent to the gulags. Intelligent people noticed the trend and a couple of generations of Russia's best and brightest went into the math field. With the fall of the USSR this trend is fading.

Ben at August 7, 2017 9:17 AM

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