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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.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."