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NYT v. WSJ on Girls and Math

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9 Responses

  1. Isn’t this equality of mean but inequality of variance exactly the sort of thing that Larry Summers suggested it was worth investigating? You know, the thing that torpedoed his career?

  2. TZ says:

    You’re being too generous to the Times. The article starts off this way:

    Three years after the president of Harvard,

    Lawrence H. Summers, got into trouble for questioning women’s “intrinsic aptitude” for science and engineering — and 16 years after the talking Barbie doll proclaimed that “math class is tough” — a study paid for by the National Science Foundation has found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests.

    The article later notes that women are underrepresented, “as noted by Dr. Summers, who resigned in 2006, in the highest levels of physics, chemistry and engineering, which require advanced math skills.”

    Yet the study doesn’t contradict Summers’ actual point about the gap at the top of the profession possibly being due to intrinsic differences, and the author of the Times articles fails to even mention the greater variability of male achievement. Perhaps not a lie, but intentionally misleading, with a rather obvious bias with regard to the story’s hook.

  3. keeping my head low says:

    I was watching the TED lectures on Youtube (which, if you haven’t seen them, are really worth watching). Helen Fisher, the famous anthropologist, casually tossed out the “greater variance at the top and bottom” point as if there is no controversy about it, and she didn’t even feel the need to wrap it, as Summers did, in the context of “speculation.” Since then, I’ve watched how the issue gets reported and when I saw this new study come out I knew right away that some media outlets would not report on that finding. And so it goes.

  4. bill says:

    Nate says: “It is also possible that once one looks at results from more difficult tests – the Science study was looking at standardized tests given to public school students . . .”

    This is the money passage of this blog post. The study looked at Minnesota public-school 11th graders (age 16)? If you’re going to be “the next Fermat,” or even just the next person to be denied tenure in a flagship state U math department, it seems very likely that, male or female, at age 16 you may already be in college, studying math. If you’re in NYC or something, you may still be in a public school (Stuy/Hunter/Bronx Science), but for most of the country, the relevant group would be to a significant degree omitted from this study.

    Instead, they studied the kids “left behind.”

  5. Mike McDougal says:

    Nate, please explain to me how the following quotation is not a completly worthless comment: “smart girls are just as smart as smart boys.”

    It’s true by definition. 100 degree water is just as hot at 100 air. 20 pound cats are just as heavy as 20 pound dogs.

  6. sex shop says:

    intent. a joke, even if it’s a really really really bad joke, doesn’t get you intent. of course, you don’t need to be an attorney to figure this out. you just have to be able to read english

  7. mikrofiber says:

    Nate, please explain to me how the following quotation is not a completly thanks

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  9. i think girls have sharp minds for maths..