Math Class Was Tough. Not Anymore!
Actually, Barbie said, "Math class is tough." I remember because I wrote about Teen Talk Barbie at the time and well remember the furor she caused by offending the delicate sensibilities of some feminists.
Barbie was recalled by her maker (Mattel) and her "Math class is tough" lament was deep-sixed, so as not to traumatize young girls from learning math.
In her column, Begley seeks to dispel the myth that there is a genetic difference between the aptitudes of boys and girls.
"If I ever again hear the word "hard-wired" used to describe anything other than an electrical system—the human brain, for instance—I'm going to scream."
Isn't that just like a girl? (I'm kidding, but only sort of.)
The last woman to practically lose it over this debate was MIT professor Nancy Hopkins after she heard Harvard president Lawrence Summers opine that it is possible that maybe, just maybe, there is difference between the sexes when it comes aptitudes for science.
What Hopkins almost lost was consciousness or her lunch. At least that's what she told the Boston Globe. She had to leave the lecture because she was so upset by what Summers said, she would have "either blacked out or thrown up."
Summers was, of course, fired for being such an insensitive lout, a woman was given his job and all was made right with the world.
Which brings us to Begley. She seems to be suggesting that when it comes to math, there is no difference between boys' and girls' aptitudes. Whatever the differences in test scores they can be explained by social and environmental factors.
She notes, interestingly, that girls have significantly closed the math gap in the last 25 years. And that culture and environment matters when it comes to girls pursuing their math talents as, no doubt, it does.
But who seriously argues that today's public school or private school math teachers discourage girls who are obviously talented in math from pursuing a career in the field. Today's American public schools are bastions of gender egalitarianism.
Math and science teachers love to teach anyone - boy or girl - who has an interest and talent in the field. It's girls and women who are self-selecting themselves out of the hard sciences and math and into other fields of study.
Despite what Begley claims, there are plenty of studies that recognize there is a difference between boys and girls' brains. (Here's just one.)
A just society's goal ought not to demand or expect parity between the sexes in whatever field or job. Our schools ought to treat every student male and female, as an individual and allow them the opportunity to develop their own particular interests and talents. So what if we live in a society where more men go into physics than women? So what if more women want to become elementary school teachers than men? So what if more men are construction workers and more women are administrative assistants and H.R. directors.
Is that any reason to scream, pass out or throw up? If you think it is, you won't like this joke:
Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: That's not funny!