10 October 2008

Males 3 X More Likely to be Highly Talented at Math Than Are Females, Although Most Promising Talent is Destroyed by US Schools

A new study in Notices of American Mathematical Society (PDF), reveals that a large number of potentially highly talented in mathematical individuals are diverted from mathematics by the US school systems, their talents largely wasted. While the article takes the politically correct stance that females are being particularly victimised, a careful reading reveals that the majority of children who are highly talented at math (by roughly 3:1) are males. If one looks further at the extreme upper end of the curve of mathematical ability, the ration of males to females is closer to 10:1. The farther out on the math ability curve one cares to look, the greater is the advantage of males over females.

Huge amounts of money are spent every year in expensive outreaches to female students, to encourage females to pursue careers in mathematics, science, and engineering/computer science. Nothing even remotely similar in magnitude is devoted to the vastly larger numbers of boy students whose talents in math and science are being squandered by a dysfunctional government school system.
Very few USA high schools teach the advanced mathematical skills, such as writing rigorous essay-style proofs, needed to excel in the USAMO. Most USAMO award winners acquire this knowledge by a combination of self -study and participation in summer mathematics camps. ...Several summer mathematics camps aimed at exposing children to numerous areas of pre - calculus mathematics not typically taught in schools have been started in the USA during the past decade. AwesomeMath is one such program, begun in 2006 for seventh through twelfth-graders who can demonstrate a high-level interest in learning areas of mathematics needed to perform well in the AIME and USAMO. It is run by the same instructors who direct the MOSP and coach the USA IMO Team. Of the ninety-three USA students who participated in the camp in 2006, fourteen (15%) were girls.

...Girls and boys with mathematical ability, whether profound, gifted, or merely above average, should be identified and encouraged to study mathematics beyond the high school level so they may pursue careers in STEM fields because these jobs are plentiful, well-paying, challenging, interesting, and beneficial to society. Their doing so is vital to the future of the USA economy... _NAMS(PDF)
Of course the authors of the study commit two errors of PC--denying differences in math aptitude due to gender, and ignoring differences in math aptitude due to underlying ethnic populations. If one believes in the discredited "blank slate hypothesis", then one is subjected to this type of error famously committed by ideologically bound academics such as Liz Spelke, Nancy Hopkins, and Donna Shalala.

Even so, it is good to have the data collected and analysed, so that in a future and more open-minded age, it can be looked at more impartially. PC bias reduces the IQ of research, academics, and public policy in a similar way that CAGW bias reduces the FQ of industry and the economy. Society must muddle through until it can throw off the ideological chains of PC, and other leftist hysterias.

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Blogger Bruce Hall said...

I've often wondered whether there is a reality of a male thought process versus a female thought process strictly because of gender. After all, there have been brilliant women in the field of physics, mathematics, philosophy [logic], and other disciplines requiring exacting mental skills.

I suspect that the differences may be more hormonal [definitely not PC] than structural. While males are driven by hormones to have sex, women are driven to have babies. There is an obvious imbalance in the amount of energy and time and attention that are the result of such actions.

For example, I have two daughters-in-law who are both quite intelligent. The first is approaching her mid-thirties and has been a rising star at a massive high-tech firm. She has reluctantly decided to have a baby before her chances run out... but only because my son has been pressing her for children. The second one has a degree and could be working in a field needed people, but chose to work as a full-time baby-sitter and then became pregnant within 2 years of getting married... and that's all she talks about... babies and small children.

Men, on the other hand, may love their children and role as fathers, but seldom define themselves that way. There seems to be an innate aggressiveness toward the world that expresses itself as either physically or mentally attacking the perceived challenges of the world... understanding and taming the world or the universe.

There may be some brain functioning differences that can be detected by equipment and, ultimately, I think it will revolve around the role of testosterone versus estrogen that do physically shape us.

Saturday, 11 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

It all comes from intrauterine exposure to androgens. Male fetuses have testicles that are functioning endocrine secreters of testosterone. Female fetuses have testosterone from their adrenals, but usually not nearly as much as males.

But you put the finger on the variability in "femininity" between different women. Some women were exposed to more androgens in utero than others. These women are more likely to be scientists, mathematicians, hard hats, pilots, truckers, etc.

Human biodiversity is complex on several levels. We're slowly unraveling the tease of tangles.

Saturday, 11 October, 2008  

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