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If You're A Woman And You're Bad At Math, Blame the Patriarchy

Spoiler: This will break your heart.

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Okay, it's about time we had a serious talk about women and math.

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Why is math so difficult for so many women? Why are there more male than female engineers?

According to this study, 1 in 5 girls will fail at math in her life.

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According to the study, which was done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more than one in five girls in Chile and Mexico failed to attain the baseline level of proficiency in reading, science, and math in 2012, while more than one in three girls failed to make the necessary grades in those subjects in eight other partner countries in that same year.

It all begins when we're young. While girls' toys teach us how to cook and be good mothers, boys' toys teach them how to build stuff.

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Girls get toy stoves, jewelry, makeup, and dolls, while boys get cars, bridges, and building blocks. This has an impact on the subjects they choose to study in school, the careers they choose to pursue, and their overall creativity.

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Then, when they go to school and start learning math, the girls perform poorly, to a large extent because they believe that they're not good enough to succeed.

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Girls start off equal to boys, but as they grow older, their grades in math begin to drop due to poor self-esteem.

What's even worse is that there is a conspicuous lack of female role models for young girls who want to go into STEM professions. Around the world, few mothers of 15-year-olds actually work in STEM professions.

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(Although there is no strong evidence suggesting that the gender gap in achievement in mathematics is greatly affected in instances in which a child's mother does work in a STEM profession.)

In 2012, only 14% of women entering university for the first time elected to pursue a science-related field of study, contrasted with 39% of men entering university in the same year.

When it's time to choose a career, most women end up not going into science- or math-related related careers because they think that "it's for men."

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Less than 5% of girls, on average, contemplate pursuing a STEM career, while16% expect to pursue a career in the health professions (compared with only 7% of boys who hope to go into a health profession).

This post was translated from Spanish.

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