Barbie Says Math Is Hard; Researchers Say Girls Can Handle It

Jessica Wakeman | June 4, 2009 - 6:45 pm

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that gender inequality is the cause of the “math gap” between boys and girls—not just girls sucking at math.

The study looked at countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index and found that girls score better at math in countries where there is more freedom, better education and financial opportunities for females. For example, girls in Iran, that beacon of women’s rights, scored low in the International Mathematical Olympiad—but in the U.S., girls are taking high school calculus at the same rate as boys. But don’t burn your “math is hard!” Barbie in a flaming pyre just yet. In American schools, boys are still considered to be more “mathematically gifted” than girls, meaning that your little sisters and nieces are still being discouraged at schools. From Fox News:

“There’s a gender stereotype that boys are better at math than girls are, and stereotypes die very hard,” [University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet] Hyde told LiveScience. “Teachers and parents still believe that boys are better at math than girls are.”

Hmm, we may or may not have gotten a D- on the our math midterm in college. Unfortunately, it did not occur to us to blame this on “stereotypes.” [Broadsheet, FoxNews]