Friday, August 03, 2007

Math and Makeup?

"Math Doesn't Suck". Yes, that is the title of Danica McKellar's new book that tries to get girls interested in math. "I thought it (math) was just for nerdy white guys, but it's not...I want to tell girls that cute and dumb isn't as good as cute and smart," said Danica. Oh, boy. While I think the book is getting at something important, does it really need to have "cutesy graphics and teenmagazine staples...syrupy dollops of just-between-us-girls encouragement" (Peg Tyre author of the Newsweek article) to get girls engaged? Girls today are taking as many high-level math courses as boys do. So why do we need to encourage them? Most girls take math because they need as a supplement their career choice. Hardly any girls pursue a "pure math" job, like a mathematician or engineer. "We've gotten girls to take math. We've gotten girls to use math. But we haven't gotten them to love it," explained Patricia Campbell who reviews math and science programs for the National Science Foundation. I can really understand that people want girls to learn to love math, but is this approach really going to reach girls today? Here's a sample problem from the book: "Say you have $50, and you want to buy a fabulous blue sundress that costs $62. Bummer! Not enough money. But wait, there's a sale tag that says it's 1/5 off. Do you have enough money now?". Reality problems are useful and I understand that many girls might like this angle. If it helps them get interested in math, great. However, is it necessary to have inserts like "three miniprofiles of drop-dead-gorgeous mathematicians" (Peg Tyre)? Oh, well. I really hope that this book does help girls get involved with math and see that it's a career worth pursuing.

Peace, friends.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm bad at math, and it just comes natural. There's no way that I'll really love it, and I'm a girl. I get annoyed when people try to get my to love math because they think it's "empowering" to women. Well, some girls just can't "love" math. It's like me making you to try to love a sport that you're really not good at and you don't find it enjoyable... it just doesn't work. From what I know and have seen, a minority of women are interested in engineering and mathematician jobs, and I really don't know why. I just really think we should accept ourselves for who we are! =)

Anonymous said...

I like math, but don't think everyone-- boys and girls-- should have to like math. But math comes up in our lives everyday, so everyone-- no matter what gender, has to use it!

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nobodie said...

Do people have to get fashion involved with math? I'm not a fashion diva, and I don't like how they made the book pink and frilly just to get girls interested. Not all the girls in the world are fashion divas, you know.

Nobodie said...

Hi! Guess what--I just got the book. [Don't ask. My grandparents got it for me.] It is helpful, but it is a little girly, but it'd okay. It's funny and encouraging, but a little fashion focused. [But I did like the chapter about fractions--Yum! Pizza.]