Why do some people think women suck at science and math?

In summary, the conversation revolves around the topic of women's abilities in science and math. Some people think that women are naturally less skilled in these subjects due to their supposed hardwired inclination towards childcare. However, others argue that this is not true and that women are just as capable in these fields. The conversation also touches upon societal pressures and stereotypes that may discourage girls from pursuing these subjects, despite their interest and ability. Ultimately, the group agrees that both men and women can excel in science and math, and that any apparent differences in ability may be due to a variety of factors rather than innate gender differences.
  • #1
VikFloyd
5
0
Why do some people think women "suck" at science and math?

I am a mechanical engineering major. I love science and math. I am very good at the two. I ran into this forum where these people argued over whether or not women are good at science or math. Surprisingly a lot of men said women are just as good at math and the sciences while other said the opposite. Some said that women are hardwired to take care of children and men are hardwired to think. Honestly, it really annoys me when people say women are only hardwired to take care of children because I do not even want children. One of the members also claimed that women never catch on easily to math. When I am learning math I catch on very quickly. Even faster than my male classmates. Someone said something about girls only struggling in their classes. I know guys who are in my class who struggle too.

I think men and women are good at science and math. I just think that sometimes girls pretend to not be good at the two to look "cute". What do you people think?

p.s I am new to this forum and I do not mean to start an argument. I just want to know what you people think. :smile:
 
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  • #2


at genius level, men are superior to women.
you are an extraordinary woman. vast majority of women hate engineering, physics and math.
women usually prefer social sciences.
 
  • #3


VikFloyd said:
I am a mechanical engineering major. I love science and math. I am very good at the two. I ran into this forum where these people argued over whether or not women are good at science or math. Surprisingly a lot of men said women are just as good at math and the sciences while other said the opposite. Some said that women are hardwired to take care of children and men are hardwired to think. Honestly, it really annoys me when people say women are only hardwired to take care of children because I do not even want children. One of the members also claimed that women never catch on easily to math. When I am learning math I catch on very quickly. Even faster than my male classmates. Someone said something about girls only struggling in their classes. I know guys who are in my class who struggle too.

I think men and women are good at science and math. I just think that sometimes girls pretend to not be good at the two to look "cute". What do you people think?

p.s I am new to this forum and I do not mean to start an argument. I just want to know what you people think. :smile:
Welcome Vik,

I think that women are just as good in science as men are. The argument about "hardwired brains" goes like that: after millenia of evolution women and men brain specialized to do some tasks better than others. I disagree with this. My hypothesis is that women and men brains are not hardwired, but wired. The process of wiring takes place during their childhood, when little girls play preferably with dolls and little boys generally break everything they put their little hand on. Of course there are exceptions. So, I do think that the brain is exceptionally well prepared to take any role when properly trained. I believe my hypothesis is quite testable, but unfortunately I can't do the tests and tell you the answer.
 
  • #4


at genius level, men are superior to women.

LOL! Stated so authoritatively. Can you prove it so authoritatively, too?
 
  • #5


I have argued with many people many times regarding this topic in my real life.
I always argued that men are superior to women when it comes to Science and engineering. Surely there are many exceptions.
But I have never come across a single woman till now in my life (in my society ) who has love and dedication to their subject.
Women are used to laugh in the class for most of the time (I really don't know why they laugh for simple reasons too), spend time in chit chat and study only to score good marks and get a job.
In my opinion they naturally do not have sincerity, interest, creativity, urge to discover, hard work (not for getting material benefits), willingness to sacrifice etc.
Women like physicist Marie Curie is an exception.
This is my personal opinion and I search for girls who have real interest in math and physics.
 
  • #6


at genius level, men are superior to women.

I have heard this as well, and I will try to find a source for it, but it is misleading. As I understand it, on average men and women have an equal ability of science and mathematics. The difference is, if you look at a curve of ability in science, the male curve is slightly flatter. The end result is that men are more common and both the upper and lower ends of the ability spectrum. So males are more common in the genius levels, but are also more common in the utter idiot levels.

Speaking from personal experience, I know many women who can do math/physics just as well as men. In fact, two of the members of my undergrad physics study group were women, and I doubt we would have managed without them. I believe the current discrepancy comes not from a lack of ability, but from social pressures.

As an undergrad, I worked on something called "Physics on the road" where we would take physics demos, and go present them at schools in the area that might not be able to afford the equipment. I have done physics demos in every grade in K-12, and what I have noticed is the older the students get, the less women raise their hand or answer questions. In one case, in a sixth grade class, we asked a question, one girl raised her hand, and then put it down and stared at the floor the rest of the time when some girls around her started giggling at her. IMO to get more woman in the higher sciences we need to change the culture as kids.
 
  • #7


n.karthick said:
Women like physicist Marie Curie is an exception. .

Members like n.karthick is an exception!... *makes sure we're in 2011*


This is my personal opinion and I search for girls who have real interest in math and physics.
:smile:

Welcome to PF! :biggrin:
 
  • #8


drizzle said:
*makes sure we're in 2011*

Yeah I checked my calender, it shows 2011.
Could you please check the top mathematicians/ physicists/scientists living today.
How many women are there in the list? What is the (approx.) ratio of men to women?
I may point out one - Ingrid Daubechies, mathematician who contributed to wavelet theory.
How many women out there who made significant contributions?

By theory men and women have the same abilities as few pointed out, but what is there in real? (as of 2011)

As far as I know count of men is still much much higher in terms of original/breakthrough/ significant contributions to science.
Correct me if I am wrong!
 
  • #9


It is quite obvious that presently there are a lot more men than women in science and math and it used to be worse in the past. I think there are a lot of factors in play here, like maybe gender discrimination still has a huge role to play in what society expects of women.
 
  • #10


how_it_works.png

http://xkcd.com/385/"

In my opinion, there's no reason that women should have any less aptitude at math and science.
 
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  • #11


n.karthick said:
As far as I know count of men is still much much higher in terms of original/breakthrough/ significant contributions to science.
Correct me if I am wrong!

Of course you're correct, but not because men are 'superior' to women. It's simply the case that an academic life is far more difficult to live as a women. Think about what an academic lifestyle entails: grad school from around age 21-27 followed two or three short-term positions up to around . Women who want to start a family need to make a decision to leave academia, or try and rough it through short term positions whilst giving birth and raising a kid. It's hardly amenable to a good life. Couple that with the fact that a lot of people marry people in a similar position (i.e. a partner who is a postdoc as well on a pretty crappy salary trying to support a family), and the plain anti-female attitude that a lot of academics have, and you can see why this problem exists.

With that said, the situation is definitely becoming a little better, and the support of women in science subjects is increasing. I would suggest that you get off your misogynistic high-horse, and think a little before you claim male superiority.
 
  • #12


If you ask your mother for two eggs and she cooks you three and you eat them anyway, then who's better at arithmetic, you, or your mother?
 
  • #13


n.karthick said:
Yeah I checked my calender, it shows 2011.
Could you please check the top mathematicians/ physicists/scientists living today.
How many women are there in the list? What is the (approx.) ratio of men to women?
I may point out one - Ingrid Daubechies, mathematician who contributed to wavelet theory.
How many women out there who made significant contributions?

By theory men and women have the same abilities as few pointed out, but what is there in real? (as of 2011)

As far as I know count of men is still much much higher in terms of original/breakthrough/ significant contributions to science.
Correct me if I am wrong!

Correlation does not imply causation. There, consider yourself corrected.
 
  • #14


It is my personal experience that women in math and science are every bit as capable as their male peers. I have also observed that a male-dominated structure in academia and society in general makes it more difficult for women. Part of that seems to be male insecurity, which also seems to be related to the obsession over lists of who's who or who's the best . . . . :rolleyes:
 
  • #15


Astronuc said:
It is my personal experience that women in math and science are every bit as capable as their male peers. I have also observed that a male-dominated structure in academia and society in general makes it more difficult for women. Part of that seems to be male insecurity, which also seems to be related to the obsession over lists of who's who or who's the best . . . . :rolleyes:

Why do some people think men are more insecure than women?
 
  • #16


VikFloyd said:
Honestly, it really annoys me when people say women are only hardwired to take care of children because I do not even want children.

I agree that's total rubbish. Women are also hardwired to make good sandwitches.
 
  • #17


xxChrisxx said:
I agree that's total rubbish. Women are also hardwired to make good sandwitches.

Women are hardwired for better verbal proficiency, as well. This thread provides all the evidence you need.

Only 50% of the female posts had errors (drizzle's tenses don't agree and lisa misspelled "therefore").

81% of the male posts had errors (Chris misspelled "sandwiches", revnaknuma used incorrect capitalization, Birkeland and cristo misspelled "undergraduate", Oerg's sentence construction was just generally poor, jhae included unnecessary words {obviously, it was your opinion since you posted it}, Jimmy used too many commas, Astronuc used too many periods in his ellipses, and Upisoft misspelled "testicles" and "testes").

While karthick's post was about as well constructed as you could expect from a non-English speaker, his post was misleading. None of us believe he has a real life.
 
  • #18


One of the members also claimed that women never catch on easily to math. When I am learning math I catch on very quickly.

Since there are many more than 1 woman in the world, your abilities have a negligible effect on the abilities of the average woman. Conversely, just because the average of a sample is X, it doesn't mean every data point has to be X. There could easily be an enormous standard deviation.

Upisoft said:
I think that women are just as good in science as men are.

What's your basis for this claim? Are you saying that the average man in the world has the same innate ability as the average woman? Considering the differences in brain structure and biochemistry between men and women, I'd be very shocked if the two averages were exactly the same.

The argument about "hardwired brains" goes like that: after millenia of evolution women and men brain specialized to do some tasks better than others. I disagree with this. My hypothesis is that women and men brains are not hardwired, but wired. The process of wiring takes place during their childhood, when little girls play preferably with dolls and little boys generally break everything they put their little hand on. Of course there are exceptions. So, I do think that the brain is exceptionally well prepared to take any role when properly trained. I believe my hypothesis is quite testable, but unfortunately I can't do the tests and tell you the answer.

I expect very strong selection pressures in favor of mutations that increase a man's ability to hunt, and very strong pressures that increase a woman's ability to raise children. Do you have any reason to expect that these selection pressures didn't change the brains of men and women? Time is certainly not an issue--humans have undergone evolution to the point of speciation, so there was plenty of opportunity for change.
 
  • #19


jhae2.718 said:
how_it_works.png

http://xkcd.com/385/"

In my opinion, there's no reason that women should have any less aptitude at math and science.

LOL. Great cartoon
 
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  • #20


BobG said:
Women are hardwired for better verbal proficiency, as well. This thread provides all the evidence you need.

Only 50% of the female posts had errors (drizzle's tenses don't agree and lisa misspelled "therefore").

81% of the male posts had errors (Chris misspelled "sandwiches", revnaknuma used incorrect capitalization, Birkeland and cristo misspelled "undergraduate", Oerg's sentence construction was just generally poor, jhae included unnecessary words {obviously, it was your opinion since you posted it}, Jimmy used too many commas, Astronuc used too many periods in his ellipses, and Upisoft misspelled "testicles" and "testes").

While karthick's post was about as well constructed as you could expect from a non-English speaker, his post was misleading. None of us believe he has a real life.

Hey...I didn't use "therefore" :confused:. So, there!
 
  • #21


BobG said:
Why do some people think men are more insecure than women?

Might be easier to accept the explanation of insecurity for some, then accepting an explanation that most men seek status and power over others, where it is not important that the 3rd part is a male or a female. If a women happens to be in his way, that's called sexism.
If it happens to be another man, well, that's just life :P
 
  • #22


BobG said:
Only 50% of the female posts had errors (drizzle's tenses don't agree and lisa misspelled "therefore").

81% of the male posts had errors

Difference: 31%
Expected difference: 0%
Standard deviation of expected difference: 29%

I just don't see why it matters whether men are innately better than women at X. First of all, it's ridiculously difficult to determine innate ability because even brain structure is heavily influenced by the environment. Even if we could determine it, it wouldn't be useful because what matters is actual ability, which is again heavily influenced by the environment. If men were genetically predisposed to suck at physics, that wouldn't discredit Einstein. If VikFloyd comes up with a great theory, it doesn't matter whether the average woman sucks at physics; it would be clear that she doesn't and that her theory gives correct predictions.
 
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  • #23


ideasrule said:
What's your basis for this claim? Are you saying that the average man in the world has the same innate ability as the average woman? Considering the differences in brain structure and biochemistry between men and women, I'd be very shocked if the two averages were exactly the same.

I expect very strong selection pressures in favor of mutations that increase a man's ability to hunt, and very strong pressures that increase a woman's ability to raise children. Do you have any reason to expect that these selection pressures didn't change the brains of men and women? Time is certainly not an issue--humans have undergone evolution to the point of speciation, so there was plenty of opportunity for change.

If there was an innate difference in mathematical ability because of genetic reasons, then it should show up before any education in mathematical skills takes place. This study of Spontaneous Focusing on Numerosity Mathematical Skills of Young Children was intended to test whether spontaneous focusing on numerosity prior to math education correlated to how well children learned when exposed to math education (arithmetic, in this case, since there was no desire to extend the span of time out all the way to graduation). They did find a correlation which suggested that some people might just be genetically predisposed to be better at math. Although not the objective of the experiment, it was noted that the only gender difference in performance was that females did better at imitation tasks than males. In other words, females performed equally well, or better, on all of the tasks during the experiment.

Any difference in math skills between genders probably (but not conclusively) takes place once math education begins and that difference could definitely be due more to social influence than innate abilities.

Edit: Of course, having better innate ability on imitation tasks could be seen as making females more likely to "conform to the norm", which would match Birkeland's post that, while the average ability of males/females is the same, males show a flatter curve with more extremes.
 
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  • #24


BobG said:
Jimmy used too many commas
There are as many commas as I require, no more and no less.
 
  • #25


BobG said:
Women are hardwired for better verbal proficiency, as well. This thread provides all the evidence you need.

What's that got to do with my sammich?

Also, women are much better at ironing shirts. I'll give that to them.
 
  • #26


lisab said:
Hey...I didn't use "therefore" :confused:. So, there!

Geez, your sentences are getting worse and worse by the minute. Surely you meant, "So, therefore, you're wrong!"
 
  • #27


The answer depends on the particular thrust of the question. One interpretation: to become skilled at something, you have to do it. So on average, do women do as much math as men?
 
  • #28


Jimmy Snyder said:
There are as many commas as I require, no more and no less.

Fewer. o:)
 
  • #29


As a historical example, the so-called "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Computers" " arguably did more for Astronomy than any of their peers did.
 
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  • #30


Male mathematicians are usually very good looking, female mathematicians usually are quite repulsive. Therefore, females only go into the sciences because it is the only place where the gender ratio is so strongly in their favor that they can find a superior mate.
 
  • #31


PhDorBust said:
Male mathematicians are usually very good looking, female mathematicians usually are quite repulsive. Therefore, females only go into the sciences because it is the only place where the gender ratio is so strongly in their favor that they can find a superior mate.

Yeah right. Use a mirror by time in time.
 
  • #32


BobG said:
Geez, your sentences are getting worse and worse by the minute. Surely you meant, "So, therefore, you're wrong!"

rofl...!

Oh another one - "roll on floor laughing" isn't a complete sentence!
 
  • #33


ideasrule said:
Upisoft said:
I think that women are just as good in science as men are.
What's your basis for this claim? Are you saying that the average man in the world has the same innate ability as the average woman? Considering the differences in brain structure and biochemistry between men and women, I'd be very shocked if the two averages were exactly the same.
From my years of experience of trying to get the average clerk to accept a ten, a five, and a quarter for a purchase that costs $13.16, men and women on average are equally lousy at math -- exceedingly simple math to boot. Whether men or women are, on average, better at math has little to do with which gender will do better in math or in fields such as physics and engineering that depend heavily on math skills. The average man and the average woman will be equally lost in such fields. People who do well in such fields are at least one, two, or more standard deviations from the mean. It is the shape of the distribution curves that is of greater importance than the location of the means.
 
  • #34


russ_watters said:
The answer depends on the particular thrust of the question. One interpretation: to become skilled at something, you have to do it. So on average, do women do as much math as men?

Great point.
 
  • #35


BobG said:
Birkeland and cristo misspelled "undergraduate"

Wait, I got dinged for using undergrad instead of undergraduate but not for using IMO? I call selection bias!

But seriously, I think it just comes down to social pressures. Anyone who has spent any time around children or works in a secondary school can tell you, girls who are good in science and math classes are seen as not cool. It’s gotten better, but it’s still there. I currently have one student who sets the curve on every test and assignment, but whenever I ask her a question in class she pretends to never know the answer. After this thread, I asked her why. Her response was “because whenever I know the answer my friends make fun of me.”
 

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