Science

Skepchick Quickies 7.25

  • Girls ARE good at math– Until they learn they’re not supposed to be.  How many of our female readers have been told that girls aren’t good at math/science?  I can certainly raise my hand.
  • Someone’s picking on surgeons– And Orac’s got something to say about that.  The surgeon who put a temporary tatoo on a woman’s private area: jerk.  All surgeons: not all jerks.  I thought some non-cracker drama was due. 
  • Science! shirts– From the people who brought you the Teach the Controversy shirts.  I want *all* of these.
  • Forensic DNA isn’t foolproof– Word.  I wish the public would realize this.  It’s a tool and a good one at that, but it’s certainly not infallible.
  • Cute photos for your Friday– Tree kangaroo = adorable. 

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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25 Comments

  1. If the surgeon was repairing a herniated disc at L5-S1, he may have taken an anterior approach, which would have dictated an incision below the waist line.

    While his policy of applying temporary tattoos at the incision is certainly boneheaded, would it have caused as big of a controversy if it were an S6-S7 (neck) location?

  2. Math girls: That is ONE awesome 14-yr-old. ut it seems like once guys and girls get to college, everyone hates math. Sad!

    DNA: That was fascinating! Good to know if I ever do get called for jury-duty. Not that they’ll ever pick me :-P

  3. Tim, I don’t care if he’s sticking them on people’s elbows, it’s still icky and violating. He didn’t ask permission to do something to someone’s body. Personally, I would flip out about that.

  4. Wow. Those Science! shirts are about as awesome as a bag full of kittens tossed into a sea of win.

    The top three and the middle on the bottom row are all so equally fantasgreat that I may start crying because I can’t buy ’em all.

  5. Great quickie! :)

    Re: Math. Actually, I’m not that good at math…though I did major in it, go figure. My current project is to (re)learn what I’ve forgotten, and man, that’s a lot. :P

    I thought the “grrls are bad at math, m’kay?” myth died out a couple of decades ago…I guess I was wrong?

    Re: Surgeons. Orec always impresses me, and this time is no exception. His argument that the doctor in question was out of line is very persuasive, as is his argument that the incident is no excuse for a round of general doctor bashing.

    Re: Shirts. I’m getting a nukuler one and a nuclear one. :)

    Re: DNA. Scary stuff…I used to think of the FBI as *the* science meets crimefighting outfit, but articles like this one, plus the comments relating to the FBIs love afair with the polygraph are rapidly changing my mind.

    Re: Pics. Sorry, I have a profound kitteh bias, and don’t experience the ‘awwwww…’ response to non-kitteh cuteness. ;)

  6. Nicole: “[B]ut it seems like once guys and girls get to college, everyone hates math. Sad!”

    So true. Public education in the US may not do a good job of teaching math, but it does a brilliant job of teaching people to hate math.

    I was a math TA in grad school, and I met many bright students of both sexes who were “bad at math”. They really weren’t, mind you, but they had been trained to think they were.

    The biggest difference that I noticed between male and female students was that the female students were more likely to ask for help when they needed it.

    This was 15 years ago.

  7. So, apparently, as the math gap has been closing, the reading gap (that is, girls score higher on reading tests- always have, at least as long as they’ve been [i]allowed[/i] to read), is increasing. Does that mean that girls really are better at reading, or that we’re doing to boys with reading what we’ve been doing to girls with math?

  8. Dread Polack: “Does that mean that girls really are better at reading, or that we’re doing to boys with reading what we’ve been doing to girls with math?”

    An interesting scientific question, but the answer has no relevance whatsoever with regard to educational policy. If there is a gap, resources should be allocated to close it. Period. End of sentence.

  9. I do my best to promote math education amongst my 3 girls. So far so good, but the oldest is just about to enter high school and I know the bad influences abound when you get higher up in level. My own experience was that boys out numbered girls at least 2 to 1 in my trig and calc classes.

    I had to buy the “Prank Heaven” shirt the second I saw it. Nothing beats a flaming bag of dog poo at the Pearly Gates. I repeat, NOTHING.

  10. I don’t know if it’s polite to point this out, but while these results are encouraging they are the result of over thirty years of well-intentioned social engineering in the classroom to push girls towards math and other technical subjects, to tailor math to appeal to girls and so on. They should be performing *better* than the boys with these advantages, not merely at the same level.

  11. Zamboro: “I don’t know if it’s polite to point this out, but while these results are encouraging they are the result of over thirty years of well-intentioned social engineering…”

    Even if this is true, the primary purpose of public education is to educate kids on core subjects. If one group has more trouble with a given subject, then “social engineering” to bring them up to speed is appropriate. You don’t have to be a socialist (which I personally am not…) to think that this is a basic public service that should be provided to everyone.

  12. The only way to truly kill a myth that women are bad at math is to see a heck of a lot of them doing good math.

    Myths tend to only be crushed by overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There are a lot of ‘women have no place in combat’ myths that I’ve heard over the years, and these are slowly dying, but only because people are seeing women perform in combat, though granted the powers that be don’t yet want to deliberately place them there.

    I went to the Naval Academy in the summer of ’86, ten years after women were first admitted, and they had a rough time of it. They seem to be doing better, but only because those that came before broke the precedent and punctured a myth.

    Side note: I can’t imagine the pride Sharon Disher felt when her daughter and son were sworn in two years ago…thirty years after she became one of the first women there.

  13. Not to brag, but I’m a biology major that just happens to LOVE organic chemistry and got such high grades in Calculus and Statistics that everyone hated me.

    …oh, and I sing, write music, poetry, and short stories. And I like long walks on the beach…with pina coladas. Ha.

    No, really. I hate the idea that men are naturally better at science and math. My best guy friend is actually an English major that write poetry and can’t do math to save his life.

    I need to read the other links later…especially the one on DNA. My specialty.

  14. bnighean_ruaidhe: “My best guy friend is actually an English major that write poetry and can’t do math to save his life.”

    And I’m guessing he’s pretty good at reading…

    On that subject, I was put in the “dumb” reading class for years even though I was reading above grade level and reading for pleasure while I was in grade school. The reason? I didn’t want to read any of the pointless crap they wanted me to. It was boring…just like most math education.

  15. Well…not all English majors write poetry. Or perhaps I missed the point of your comment.

    Oh…and I just realized that it should be “English major WHO writes poetry”….I suppose he is rubbing off on me.

    I was put into the normal math classes at school as well, even though I go on to become a science major in college.

  16. The real question is whether or not the tree kangaroo is psychic. I bet he is. He was posing all cute just because he knew that a bunch of pretty girls would be looking at him if he did.

  17. It’s certainly been my experience that the young ladies in my math classes are as competent as the young men, but it has also unfortunately been my experience that it has been less socially acceptable for them to be so. But even that has improved, so I’m not that surprised by this report. It really does some to have become more acceptable over the last decade for women to succeed academically.

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