Empowering Women

Mathematics and Girls – Time to break the myth

Debunking myths that arise out of our ignorance


Smita Sinha is a mathematician and a homemaker. She has a degree in mathematics from Ranchi University. In her spare time, she loves to teach math. She has been helping a number of students in excelling in the subject for the last twenty years.

The phobia of math is created by society at large and both boys and girls are affected by this. In my experience, this fear of mathematics more often is because of the people you interact with on a regular basis. If you ask a child struggling with math, “Why do you fear the subject?” Invariably one gets the reply that my mom, my dad, my teacher or someone they know says that mathematics is tough.

There is also a widely held perception that math requires an extraordinary level of intelligence, which is not true. It’s a myth that boys are better at math, and that girls are better in verbal skills. Research shows no cognitive biological differences between men and women in mathematics.
In patriarchal societies, men have always been treated as superior species than women. Women has been branded as having lower cognitive skills than men.

In my experience of teaching mathematics for years, I haven’t found any difference in mathematical skills between a girl and a boy. It all boils down to an individual’s capability.

For school mathematics, it’s more to do with getting the concepts right, practice and dedication. Even the various board results are testimony of the same where girls are constantly outperforming the boys. What girls need is encouragement and as parents we need to be patient, accessible and approachable to their emotional needs. Simple words of appreciation and instilling belief that you can master it, goes a long way in helping a struggling child.

One may question about low participation of females in the field of STEM. But the situation is fast changing as parents are providing all the support to their girl child to excel, which wasn’t the case a couple of decades ago.

It’s all about providing opportunity to the girl child like the boy child.

Even a few years ago, parents were not keen to send their girls to enroll for professional studies as it costs money which was used for the boy child.

In a nutshell, girls neither have phobia of mathematics nor do they need to put extra efforts. It’s a myth; nothing more, nothing less!

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