More

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.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.