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Topic: Mathematics, the makeover
Replies: 5   Last Post: Oct 8, 2010 10:12 AM

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Michael Dougherty

Posts: 148
From: Weatherford, OK
Registered: 5/18/10
Re: Mathematics, the makeover
Posted: Oct 6, 2010 12:41 PM
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> > attracted the
> > "most mathsphobic
> > girls and helped them to succeed".
> >

> A commendable goal, but why, oh why, do we have to do
> this through Hollywood stereotypes, sex appeal,
> lipstick, and crushes on boys? So now the message is
> not that girls have to be like boys in order to do
> well in math, it is that girls must be attractive to
> boys in order to do well in math. Oh, yeah, that's a
> step up.
> Pam

Agreed. Actually I don't know where the stereotype that girls can't do math came from. While I did better in college than any of my three older sisters, I was usually bested by girls at all levels below. My advisor's wife was a full professor at a research university, and my wife is a better mathematician than I am (and has been since, oh, birth just about). I've met many professional lady mathematicians who are first-rate.

I wonder if one undermines the message by putting it out there so aggressively with, as Pam indicates, a lot of distracting "other" messages. A search for Danica McKellar brings up lots of images with lots of skin showing. Maybe that's constructive on balance. Seems muddling to me.

I don't know about her latest book, but I bought one of the previous ones and she's "cute" on the cover, and her use of language is interesting. Again I found it a bit distracting, analogous to Ebonics in that she seemed to go a bit overboard with using "girl talk" to explain math, and sometimes making it more complicated (I thought) than it had to be.

But hey, she's making money.

Still, I give her credit for ostensibly knowing enough math to understand the paper that bears her name.

- --Mike D.

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