Smart Girls Are Hot
My daughter doesn’t have math homework yet, but I’ve already staked out helping her with it as my exclusive territory. Fortunately, my husband was a political science major, so he’s totally fine with “letting” me be in charge of all math and science-related aspects of our kids’ education. He will be in charge of teaching them how to turn boring discussions into heated debates, how to argue their way out of paper bags, and how to confuse the opposition using vocabulary words in lieu of logic.
I suck at debating—I’m more of an action girl. But I am good at math. It’s logical, it follows clearly laid-out rules, and when you do it right you can almost hear the little snick sound the universe makes when everything clicks into place.
Thus far, according to my daughter, everything Mommy does is super cool. Mommy being good at math, Mommy coloring inside the lines in the Flower Fairies coloring book, and Mommy knowing the lyrics of every Social Distortion song all come in under my five-year-old’s umbrella of My Mom Is Super Cool (Except When She Tells Me Princesses Are Helpless Pains In The Ass). Someday this bubble will burst and my daughter will drink the Math Is Hard Kool-Aid and see me not as a trigonometry badass, but as a supremely embarrassing dorky mom who likes math (how lame).
Before that happens (somewhere around middle school, I think) I have to convince her that being smart is hot and knowing how to kick algebra booty will not be detrimental to her future. I have less than eight years to instill in her a solid smart-girl ethic before she hits the teen years and never speaks to me again.
If worse comes to worst, I can always employ some cranky military tactics and make her watch The Wonder Years until she gets how hot Winnie Cooper is. Then I’ll show her this math proof and tell her the hot girl coauthored it. Then I’ll give her the book Math Doesn’t Suck by Danica McKellar (Winnie) and tell her to read it if she knows what’s good for her.
Or not. Sometimes you can lean so far to the left that you end up going to the right. Don’t worry, I won’t crush my good intentions with evil tactics. Between me telling her that Barbie was wrong and all of the positive attention girls, math and science are getting lately, it’s conceivable that my daughter’s relationship with math could be healthy and well-adjusted.
Good articles on girls, math and science:
-Closing the Gap for Girls in Math-Related Careers
-For Some Girls, the Problem With Math Is That They’re Good at It
-Approach to School Affects How Girls Compare With Boys in Math
-Math, Science, and Girls: Can We Close the Gender Gap?
-Girls’ Math Anxiety Undermines Performance in Other Subjects