Sex, Math And Science: Exploring The Gender Gap In Math And Science

1290 words - 5 pages

Ever since the beginning of time women have been fighting to gain attention in the mathematical arena. For decades they were seen as persona non grata but hard work and perseverance has led to tremendous breakthroughs as there are instances where females are either equally performing or even out performing their male counterparts in math-related disciplines. Ceci, et al in “Women's Underrepresentation in Science: Sociocultural and Biological Considerations” (2009) posits that male and female college mathematics students receive similar grades and ever since 1996 there has been an increase in the percentage of females receiving bachelors and doctorates in STEM (Science, Technology and Mathematics) fields (221). As Connie McNelly and Sorina Vlaicu in “Exploring Institutional Hiring Trends of Women in the U.S. STEM Professoriate” (2010) puts it, there is proof to suggest that despite the large amount of females earning degrees and doctorates in math-related fields, they are not entering the science and math workforce at the same rate (786). Why then does a gender gap exist in math-related careers? There is a general consensus that a gender disparity exists within math-related fields, however, there are several arguments which seek to explain this phenomenon.
Harvard University’s Elizabeth Spelke does not agree with the general view that there is a genetic base for one’s propensity towards math and science. In "Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science? A Critical Review" (2005) Spelke disputes three major arguments put forward to explain the disproportion as it relates to the percentage of males and females in science and mathematics careers. The first argument suggested that as early as birth, males are better suited to develop the necessary math skills as they were focused on objects while females were focused on sentimental things and people (950). However, according to Spelke's investigations, there is no evidence to support claims for males being more preoccupied with objects over females (951). The genetic difference between male and female, which gave males the advantage in mathematical reasoning ability, was another claim which Spelke refuted from her research and added that males and females seem to be alike in their ability to learn math and science. The third argument suggested that males showed dominance due to their unpredictability in intrinsic mathematical capacity but Spelke positioned that both sexes show equal talent in performing the main fundamentals of mathematical reasoning. She disputes the claims that men are more inclined towards mathematics based on "cognitive sex differences" (950) and proudly notes that research negate the fact that any of these arguments hold true as it was found that males and females, in relation to science and mathematics, have the same ability (951).
On the other hand, Sapna Cheryan and Victoria Plaut in “Understanding the Paradox in Math-Related Fields: Why Do Some...

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