Gender and Mathematical Ability

To make this beta-testing of the new features of ZCom a little more interesting, I thought I’d link to an article by Richard York and Brett Clark in the Monthly Review of November 2007: Gender and Mathematical Ability; The Toll of Biological Determinism.  I  found it through Le Monde Diplomatique’s monthly discussion of international magazines and journals.

The conclusion of the article reads:

Our point here has been to argue that, despite common perceptions to the contrary, the evidence in support of sex-based differences in math performance is surprisingly weak, does not convincingly show that any differences are genetic in origin, and that perpetuating biologically deterministic views can actually generate differences in performance [emphasis added]. We are not suggesting that it should be taboo to ask questions about innate differences across human groups—we fully support the right of scholars to free inquiry. However, we also think that it is important to be particularly skeptical when scientific findings fit all too comfortably with prevailing social prejudices and the interests of dominant social groups, especially if they are put forward at the expense of addressing important social barriers. Insightfully, de Beauvoir indicated that as long as “woman is the Other” all justifications of inequalities should be cast under suspicion.

Based on personal conversations I share the authors’ view that "the acceptance of the view that men are innately superior to women in math and science is remarkably widespread."


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