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We couldn't prove that women are good at math. Here's why that's OK.

Turns out we were asking the wrong question.

We couldn't prove that women are good at math. Here's why that's OK.

Many people think men are better than women at math. Computer science researcher and feminist Terri Oda has suggested graphically that this is what people think the male-female math ability scale looks like:


Image via Terri Oda.

Well, I'm a woman, so I wanted to test this theory.

So I corralled my coworker Eric.

And we both just tried to solve this math problem:

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

We both got it wrong. Miserably wrong.

If you follow the logic of that blue and pink chart up there, Eric should've gotten it right. He's a man, after all. Grrrr. Sports. Beef jerky.

But that chart is also super wrong. Miserably wrong.

What does the correct chart look like? Terri shows us.

Image via Terri Oda.

This chart reflects a study that shows both men and women are about equal in skill when it comes to math. And both are, well, equally as bad.

And it took us both a little bit of time to understand that because we're both equally bad at reading mathy charts. But we figured that it meant if women aren't good at math, men aren't either.

So the question is if men and women are both equally bad at math, then why are men doing so much of it?

Image via NASA.

Because our brains, which we have proven are bad at logical reasoning, think like this:

So when a boy is mad at math, he is bad at math. When a girl is bad at math, all girls are bad at math? Yeah. OK. Image via xkcd.

The problem isn't how we do math, it's how society has made us think about math.

A male who's bad at math? An exception to the rule. A woman bad at math? Well what do you expect?! This way of thinking is wrong. It discourages girls from pursuing mathier futures, and it makes boys who struggle with math feel like very exceptional weirdos. That's not good for anyone.

Because of the way we see math in pop culture (and in our lives) we think it's this GIANT achievement only meant for the most perfect genius — and that most perfect genius is usually a man. Says society.

Society, you're wrong again.

Everyone — men and women alike — have the potential to get good at math. After we all agree on that, push our sexist lens to the side, and create our own math-judgment-free zone, the possibilities open WAY up.

Because here's the fun:

Now that we know men and women both have equal biological potential to be good at math, we know that they also have equal biological potential to have awesome, impressive math careers.

You know, in those mathy fields that are usually overwhelmingly male? If society and our silly notions about math and gender would get out of the way, I bet even more women would be in STEM careers making mic-dropping slides like this from Terri Oda:

Equality is a beautiful thing.

via Texas State Senate and The ACLU

There has been a tidal wave of anti-trans legislation proposed over the past few months in the U.S. At least 17 states are now considering restricting anyone under the age of 18 from transition-related care.

Texas is currently debating two anti-trans bills. Once would criminalize parents for allowing their children to receive gender-affirming treatments. Another would criminalize healthcare professionals who administer them.

For a state that prides itself on promoting personal freedom, these bills go out of their way to punish medical professionals and parents for making deeply personal choices. Shouldn't doctors and parents have the right to make medical decisions for children without the state's involvement?

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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