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The Truth About Girls and BoysChallenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children$
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Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151634

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151634.001.0001

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Math Wars

Math Wars

(p.43) 4 Math Wars
The Truth About Girls and Boys

Caryl Rivers

Rosalind C. Barnett

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the idea that women's “innate” aptitude for science and engineering are inferior to men's—an idea that originated from Harvard professor Lawrence Summers. The debate concerning cognitive gender differences has been going on for a long time. Many articles simply assumed that this issue had not been studied before and that Summers was to be applauded for launching new research. Plenty of early research on the subject shows very small differences in cognitive abilities between the sexes. In addition, the chapter presents the following false arguments about why girls are not good at mathematics: no “mathematics gene,” no logical brains, a low score on the mathematics SAT, boys' hormones kick in at puberty and give them a mathematic advantage, females are not hardwired for spatial abilities, and girls just do not like mathematics and science.

Keywords:   Lawrence Summers, cognitive gender differences, mathematics gene, logical brains, spatial abilities, mathematics and science

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