I’ve seen many studies that say girls/women do as well as boys/men in math. However, I was wondering if there are any studies which investigate if there’s a different level of enjoyment of math between the sexes
I don’t doubt that women are just as good as men in regurgitative knowledge. That is, be taught how to solve math problems and then later use that knowledge to solve other math problems. However, I wonder if they enjoy math for its own sake as much as men.
For example, I like thinking about how numbers work. Sometimes I doodle where I play with prime numbers. I think trig is cool. Stuff like that. I enjoy math in and of itself. Is that behavior similar between men and women?
I’d say that that behaviour wouldn’t have anything to do with your gender.
It’s probably just that men were previously (and maybe still are) supposed to study science and math, while women were supposed to study social sciences (if they were to study at all) and then some of them realized they liked their “chosen” field.
I’m a guy, and I find absolutely no enjoyment in math.
I have no doubt that women can truly enjoy and be fascinated by mathematics. I know plenty of examples, both personally and historically.
But it might well be that the “average” woman is less interested in math than the “average” men, because men and women do, in general (though with plenty of exceptions) have different interests, partly due to cultural conditioning and partly (I believe) due to innate things like brain wiring or hormones.
It looks like the first statement is supposed to be support for the second. Would you care to elaborate how? The mere fact that more men than women end up in physics classes does not necessarily indicate anything inherent about men and women: It’s at least to some extent societal.
I don’t know that scores alone would reflect this difference. I got A’s in many classes that I had very little interest in. For example, I remember this guy in my Japanese History class who loved everything about Japanese history. It was almost like a hobby to him. It was just an elective to me, but the A I got looks just like his.
I just remember really enjoying learning math as a kid. I don’t think it was because of any societal conditioning. I can remember in 3rd grade being amazed to see how long division worked. I can’t recall anyone back then pushing me in that direction. There are many fields which I’m not at all interested in. Hisory yawn, philosophy yawn, literature yawn. So I feel there’s something about my wiring that made me enjoy math (and science in general). I got good grades in all my subjects, but I did well in math because I liked the subject. I did well in the other subjects because I wanted to get good grades.
Math wasn’t my major, but I took a lot of math classes in college because I enjoyed it. The male/female ratio in the lower level courses would be 50/50, but it would change to 90/10 or 100/0 in the upper level courses. I would contrast this with my French Lit class where it was 10% men to 90% women. I hated that class, but I needed the elective. Seeing the ratios like that make me wonder if there’s something about men that would give them a greater proclivity for math.
Well…if women do as well as men on math tests then there seems to be no particular innate preference for men here.
As such I would then suspect it is nurture and not nature at work here. Little girls are usually given dolls to play with. Little boys get Legos. Society pushes men and women in this regard more than genetics I think.
That could be the case. However, there seems to be decent evidence that men outperform women on spatial and quantitative reasoning by a large margin, even when controlling for educational experience (i.e. testing female engineering students against male engineering students). It seems that women drop out of the mathematical sciences just before university, right about the same time that most mathematical curricula move away from computational mathematics toward more abstract material.
Also, the nurture argument has never fully explained what is going on with the biological sciences. Veterinary medicine, biology and human medicine all have huge numbers of females students. Why biology and not physics?
I think it’s difficult to figure this kind of thing out, because there are so many ways that it could be social rather than innate. I’ve always liked math, but I didn’t go into it, because I liked biology more. Maybe that’s true of lots of girls… maybe they just find things they enjoy more than math, or they enjoy math more as a means to an end, or they’re socialized to look toward things with more obvious practical value.
Or, thinking about it, it could be another social difference. There is some evidence that women talk more than men, and people think they put more value on social relationships, which may very well be true. Now, in your experience, how much group work does math class have compared to other subjects? In my admittedly not universal experience, it has far less. So, if you ask girls if they enjoy math, and they say, “no,” what have you really learned?
That’s just one example of the factors that could confound any study on whether girls enjoy math as much as boys… it would be complicated to investigate.
(Anecdotal evidence obviously doesn’t count, except to establish that there is a cultural myth of the superloquacity of women, the existence of which is not a point of controversy: this is, after all, why such faux-studies are received by laymen with open arms and unjustified "Of course! I could have told you so…"s)