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Lecture Research

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Classroom factors influence the girls’ mathematics performance in several ways. Girls are less active in mathematic classes. This affects their concentration, as they do not participate in answering questions or asking clarifications on mathematics’ concepts that they fail to understand. This is supported by the interview done by Danica McKeller, as she said that she struggled while she has been in seventh grade and she would sometimes cry because of the stress brought about by mathematics. She also said that girls have been intimidated by mathematics and went ahead to give an example of how she has been scared when she received results from her mathematics tests. Teachers also engage in benevolent sexism as they expect boys to perform better in mathematics than girls. Danica McKeller said that people viewed successful mathematicians as nerds. She added that the society has expected girls to succeed by being pretty and that was the reason why there were many pictures of pretty girls in billboards. Teachers thus fail to encourage girls to pursue mathematics. However, the interview challenged the lecture’s findings on how classroom factors influence mathematics performance in several ways. The reason that Danica McKeller succeeded in mathematics is that she received massive support from her teachers. In contrast, the lecturer states that most teachers did not support girls who liked mathematics as they associated mathematics with boys. She claims that she wanted to give back to the society since her teachers have helped her to become successful in mathematics.

Question #1

Assume you subscribe to the similarities tradition as discussed in the textbook/ lecture research – how would you respond to this interview – be sure to explain comprehensively?

If I subscribed to the similarities tradition as described by the lecture, I would respond to the interview in several ways. The similarities tradition argues that if women were given the same opportunities as men, they would perform the same way as men did. However, women are given limited opportunities since people feel that they cannot be leaders or perform challenging tasks. Women who have succeeded in science earn 25 percent less the salary men in the same field earn. In addition, faculty ratios in Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that only 15 women are tenured while the number of men tenured was 197. This proves that women are not given equal opportunities as men are given. This interview supports the similarities tradition in several ways. Danica McKellar is an internationally recognized mathematician. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in mathematics proving that women can also succeed in mathematics just as men do. She claims that her teachers supported her and she owes her success to them. It proves that if girls receive the same support in class as boys do, they will also succeed. In addition, she has written two books on mathematics proving that women can also become successful authors. She also received an award from Journal of Physics and New York Times. Danica has also introduced new ways of teaching mathematics. She argues that if teachers taught girls mathematics using things that they could relate to, their understanding would improve. This proves that women can also be innovative just as men are.

Question #2

Consider the textbook/ lecture research on how male domain beliefs or stereotype threat influences on girls' math performance – how do either one of these factors is challenged or supported in this interview.

Male domain beliefs threaten to influence the girls’ performance in several ways. Males believe that they can perform better that girls perform. This is the main reason that causes teachers to expect better performance from boys compared to the girls’ performance. In addition, boys join mathematics and computer clubs as they believe they are better in mathematics. This causes girls to be less confident in their overall performance in mathematics. Research has proved that girls rate themselves lower on mathematics’ self-assessment since they believe that boys would perform better than they would. In addition, it is common for parents to attribute success of the girls in mathematics to hard work while boys’ success is attributed to talent. However, the interview challenged the fact that male domain beliefs influence the girls’ mathematics performance. This is because Danica McKeller was a girl and she was able to publish two books on mathematics. In addition, she even gave ideas in the interview on how the next generation would view mathematics as an easy subject proving that not only boys can succeed in mathematics.

Question #3

What kind of emotional stereotypes, as outlined in the textbook/ lecture are evident in this interview?

Women have several emotional stereotypes. People view women’s emotions as more delicate, unstable and sensitive. This makes them fear taking positions of power or pursuing career opportunities. In addition, women present themselves by encoding happiness and this is the source of feminine popularity. Feminine happiness is evident in the interview. Danica McKeller smiles all throughout the interview. She smiles even when she is explaining how mathematics was challenging to her in the seventh grade. In addition, women are more aware of the emotional states of other people since they have strong decoding ability. Danica argued that mathematics was not as tough as language. She argued that if it could be translated into things that girls thought about, for example, popularity and boys, then it would be easy for girls to see mathematics as fun. This shows that she was able to understand emotions of other people. In contrast, men have an emotion stereotype of presenting themselves as masculine by encoding anger. Men believe that anger is a form of social power and that it would help them to succeed in politics. The interviewer of this conversation was male and he seemed more aggressive than other participants of the interview did.

Question #4

Does this interview support or refute the textbook/ lecture research on girls' math outcomes influence on society?

This interview refutes the lecture research on the girls’ math outcomes influence on the society. The lecture argues that in elementary schools girls believed that they could perform better in mathematics than boys do. However, in high school boys seemed to perform better than girls. Most universities did not hire girls despite succeeding in mathematics and science. The women who were hired in mathematics and science receive less pay than men do and their job security was not certain. It further argues that since girls are emotionally unstable, sensitive and delicate, they will not be able to do mathematics, as it is a challenging subject. However, the interview refutes this. Danica is a girl and she has succeeded in influencing the society through mathematics. She has helped students to view algebra as an easy topic by publishing a book known as Kiss Math. In addition, she taught the public how to use binomial distribution to solve real life issues proving her point that mathematics makes people to be smarter and at the same time helps them to save money. This shows that the outcomes of girls’ math may have significant influence on the society. She has even started a movement aiming to make the next generation love mathematics proving that she has a significant impact on the society.

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