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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Superior Male Mathematical Ability’

Posted on | May 17, 2014 | 38 Comments


Does anyone else remember the “Teen Talk Barbie” controversy?

In July 1992, Mattel issued a talking Barbie doll which said various phrases that a teenager might say. One of these phrases was “math class is tough” and, to judge from the reaction by feminists, Barbie might as well have said, “All girls are stupid”:

A talking Barbie doll criticized by a national women’s group for saying “math class is tough” will no longer utter tve the offending lament, Mattel Inc. has decided. . . .
The American Association of University Women attacked the math comment in a report on how schools shortchange girls.

What was the problem? Math class is tough, after all, and for a kid’s toy to say so — well, who cares? Did anyone believe that girls were going to be brainwashed because of a four-word sentence they heard from a talking doll? It was absurd. But believing absurdities is what feminism is all about, so it became a huge controversy.

In fact, differences between males and females in terms of mathematical aptitude have been the subject of feminist protest for decades. In his 1999 book The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature, sociologist Morton Hunt recounted an earlier uproar over the same basic topic:

Neither [John Hopkins University] Professor Julian Stanley nor his co-author, Camilla Benbow, a graduate student, anticipated that they would be fiercely attacked by feminists or, indeed, by anyone when their brief report, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability: Fact or Artifact?” was accepted by the journal Science and published in its December 12, 1980, issue. . . .
Their final conclusion was that differences in innate ability accounted for the results, although they allowed that environmental factors might also have played a part:

We favor the hypothesis that sex differences in achievement in and attitude toward mathematics result from superior male mathematical ability, which may in turn be related to greater male ability in spatial tasks. This male superiority is probably an expression of both endogenous and exogenous variables. . . . It also seems likely that putting one’s faith in boy-versus-girl socialization processes as the only permissible explanation of the sex difference in mathematics is premature. . . .

Their report, only two pages long, was like a lighted match tossed into dry underbrush during a windstorm; it touched off a fast-spreading conflagration of articles and letters in the media throughout the country and in scientific journals. . . .
Articles and letters in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and many other magazines and newspapers, and many scientific journals, reported Benbow and Stanley’s finding, in most cases stressing its inflammatory nature. Some popular articles distorted the message in ways bound to enrage the public and scientists: Newsweek’s article was headlined “Do Males Have a Math Gene?” (Benbow and Stanley never mentioned the word “gene”). An Associated Press special was headlined , “Hopkins Study Called ‘Ridiculous’” and quoted the public statement of a feminist contingent at an annual meeting of the American Mathematical Society in San Francisco, “It is virtually impossible to undo the damage of the publicity surrounding the report” . . .

Think about that last phrase: “the damage of the publicity surrounding the report.” Who or what was “damaged” and how? All that Stanley and Benbow had done was to compile and analyze data and presented their conclusions which, although couched in qualifiers like “may” and “seems,” contradicted the feminist assumption that “socialization processes” explained the differences. If articles in the popular media misrepresented the Stanley-Benbow study, this was not their fault, but still: Who was “damaged”?

If your daughter excelled at math, would you stop encouraging her because a study found that, on average, boys scored higher on math? To say that Group A, on average, outperforms Group B in a skill is not to say that no members of Group B possess that skill.

Yet because feminists are very much obsessed with women as a group — and believe that any advantage exhibited by men (on average, as a group) must be a result of discrimination against women — the Stanley-Benbow study was a problem, in that it strongly suggested that anti-female discrimination did not explain everything.

We are, therefore, back at the kind of “is”/”ought” issue previously discussed, the feminist obsession with Equality, where every statistical disparity between men and women becomes a grievance.

Despite the fact that now women are 33% more likely than men to earn a college diploma, this disparity in favor of women hasn’t stopped feminists from whining about “discrimination.”

As for differences in math ability, a 2008 study found that most of that disparity had also disappeared, but this didn’t stop the study’s author from claiming that girls still suffer from prejudice:

Parents and teachers persist in thinking boys are simply better at math, said Janet Hyde, the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who led the study. And girls who grow up believing it wind up avoiding harder math classes.
“It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology,” Hyde said.
For the class of 2007 . . . boys scored an average of 533 on the math section of the SAT, compared with 499 for girls.

Alas, women are being denied “high-prestige, lucrative careers” because of anti-female prejudice and talking Barbie dolls!

Perhaps, someday in the Feminist Future, women will receive 100% of college degrees and there won’t be any difference between boys and girls in SAT scores, because boys won’t be allowed to take the test, as boys will be prohibited from attending college.

And this result will be called Equality!



38 Responses to “‘Superior Male Mathematical Ability’”

  1. Julie Pascal
    May 17th, 2014 @ 2:08 am

    Boys *are* more likely to be better at Math than girls. But every time they start some gawd awful program to “help” girls be better at math, they screw over the math-adept boys and completely destroy the math-adept girls in the process. Because there always were math-adept girls. They were the ones that thought more like boys think, who test like boys test, who love math because the answers are right or they’re wrong and they don’t get points off because some idiot teacher has a different opinion about where the commas should have gone in a sentence (and was *wrong*) or they don’t get points off because they interpreted the significance of some subjective thing in the “wrong” way.

    More boys than girls are analytical and spatial… but is that any reason to take away the *one* area that analytical and spatial aptitude *girls* found comfortable and exciting?

    You know who comes up with these dumb things? HUMANITIES majors. Argh!

    No, I don’t hold grudges, why do you ask?

  2. Adjoran
    May 17th, 2014 @ 2:28 am

    The worst example, which predates the whole Barbie-math flare-up, is Title IX. This mandates equal expenditures for men and women in athletics at the college level (the revenue-producing sports are exempt since they more than pay for themselves). Now, as we all know, young men are far more likely to have an interest in sports as an activity than young women do. That’s not sexist, it’s just the fact.

    Colleges tried mightily to entice more women to participate, funding every sort of women’s sport in an attempt to satisfy the law. But almost none succeeded. The result was not increased athletic opportunities for girls, but fewer for boys, as the only road to “equality” was to stop funding men’s sports which had been funded for decades.

    No women benefited, but enough men were harmed that the wymyn’s movement and the federal government were satisfied.

  3. Lawrence Summer
    May 17th, 2014 @ 2:31 am

    I would comment, but instead I am going to have a stiff drink and then weep.

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  5. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 17th, 2014 @ 2:46 am

    Some girls have benefited through softball, crew, volleyball, and field hockey scholarships at the expense of male programs (wrestling, track, etc.) what were cut.

  6. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 17th, 2014 @ 3:01 am
  7. Adjoran
    May 17th, 2014 @ 3:09 am

    There were women’s softball and volleyball scholarships before, too, though.
    Of course some girls have benefited, I overstated when I said “no increased opportunities,” but nowhere near as many as were necessary to just maintain a balance without cutting men’s sports. So the net negative to men’s sports is far greater than the positive to women’s.

  8. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 17th, 2014 @ 3:18 am

    Agreed. It is about “equality” which genially means some group losing out to benefit some other group. So field hockey get scholarships, male wrestling programs get cancelled, and football racks in the money.

  9. concern00
    May 17th, 2014 @ 5:09 am

    For Amanda Marcotte…

    Yesterday’s a dream
    I face the morning
    Crying on a breeze
    The pain is calling
    Oh Mandy
    Well, you came and you gave without taking
    But I sent you away oh, Mandy
    Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
    And I need you today Oh, Mandy
    You came and you gave without taking
    But I sent you away oh, Mandy
    Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
    And I need you

  10. Good Stuff
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:31 am

    boys doing math – new tab – search –*exp(-(((x%2B4)%5E2%2B(y%2B4)%5E2)%5E2))%2B0.15*exp(-(((x-4)%5E2%2B(y-4)%5E2)%5E2))&oq=exp((-(((x-4)%5E2%2B(y-4)%5E2)%5E2))%2F1000)%2Bexp((-(((x%2B4)%5E2%2B(y%2B4)%5E2)%5E2))%2F1000)%2B0.15*exp(-(((x%2B4)%5E2%2B(y%2B4)%5E2)%5E2))%2B0.15*exp(-(((x-4)%5E2%2B(y-)%5E2)%5E2))&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

  11. Good Stuff
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:32 am

    just click the link…

  12. Mm
    May 17th, 2014 @ 7:53 am

    Which is exactly why guys should be suing. Title IX cuts both ways.

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    May 17th, 2014 @ 7:55 am

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  14. Zohydro
    May 17th, 2014 @ 8:19 am

    ??? I’m gonna take you by surprise and make you realise, Amanda…
    I’m gonna tell you right away, I can’t wait another day, Amanda…
    I’m gonna say it like a man and make you understand, Amanda…
    I love you! ???

  15. RS
    May 17th, 2014 @ 8:23 am

    An observation which seems apropos at the moment: I sat at my son’s high school senior awards ceremony yesterday. For the first time in 10 years, the top 10% of the graduating class consisted of more males than females. Of the top ten graduates only one was a female. All of the top ten students are going into STEM disciplines. including the only National Merit Scholar at the school, a female. When my daughter graduated 4 years ago, the numbers were reversed and the females at the top all gravitated to the Humanities.


  16. RS
    May 17th, 2014 @ 9:15 am

    No, I don’t hold grudges, why do you ask?(My Emphasis)

    Comma splice.

    Minus 1. <—– Math


    A former German Literature/English/Philosophy Major.

    : )

  17. RS
    May 17th, 2014 @ 9:24 am

    See, e.g. this article from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

  18. ThePaganTemple
    May 17th, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    I can’t stand this sexist bullshit! Red haired women are actually quite good at Math, and they are even better fighters.

  19. Phil_McG
    May 17th, 2014 @ 10:14 am

    Let’s be honest. Facts and logic are sexist, which is why feminists want nothing to do with those things.

  20. Unix-Jedi
    May 17th, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

    “(the revenue-producing sports are exempt “

    They’re not exempted. They still count at least for body counts. So the football team has to be balanced, number-wise… somewhere.

    (If you counted Cheerleading as a sport, it would almost equalize, and notice the vehemence against doing *that*.)

    Problem is, lots of guys like to play football. I was asked repeatedly to walk-on when I was at school (Major Div I program) by guys on the team – and considered it. I wouldn’t have been big enough to play much (or get a scholarship), but you never know. Several guys I know walked-on, just to be a part of it.

    So they spent 20+ hours a week working – to sit on the sideline every weekend. (In uniform). I think of those guys, they massed a grand total of _maybe_ 20 plays, total.

    Guys’ll do that. Women usually won’t – especially not enough to offset the football teams.

  21. Unix-Jedi
    May 17th, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

    You know nothing, Jon Snow!

  22. Bob Belvedere
    May 17th, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

    And that’s balanced by the fact that red-haired womins is crazy.

  23. concern00
    May 17th, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

    It’s probably mathematical possible to prove that feminists are insane.

  24. jakee308
    May 17th, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

    There was a Sci Fi short story I read where in a future society, everyone was tested for various innate abilities and were accordingly “handicapped” to equalize everyone to a “norm”.

    Such as: gifted dancers were required to wear concrete shoes, or a math whiz had to wear a set of earphones that spewed sound constantly to disrupt their thinking. Speakers or singers were forced to put dental devices in their mouths that distorted their words.

    You get the picture. The questions now are; is it that farfetched; or how far away from that as being a reality are we and also is that what Common Core is really all about?

  25. concern00
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

    Equality…of the marxist kind.

  26. RS
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

    Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  27. Phil_McG
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

    ‘Harrison Bergeron’ by Kurt Vonnegut.

    They made a TV-movie version a few years ago starring Sean Astin, it was surprisingly good.

  28. Phil_McG
    May 17th, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

    They’ve come a long way since me and my classmates were amused by typing 28008 into a calculator, then turning it upside down.

  29. Steve Skubinna
    May 17th, 2014 @ 7:12 pm

    Well, I used to find math class tough. But then one day my dad took me to the secret White Guy’s Clubhouse, where they showed me the special handshakes and taught me the magical Words of Power, and handed me the Keys to the Universe.

    After that, the teacher would ask me a question and I’d say “Hey, White Privilege. Plus, I’m a guy” and he’d slink away, abashed, only to take it out later on the girls and minority students.

    Yup, ever since then I’ve been farting through silk. Say, which one of you lovely ladies would like to bring me a sammich and a beer?

  30. K-Bob
    May 17th, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

    All I know about women’s abilities and men’s in math is that in every math class I ever had (from grade school through college, and from basic arithmetic and business math through Calculus, ODE and so-called “real math”), the top two people in every class were invariably one male and one female.

    On the other hand, women tended to make up about 25% or less of the higher-level math classes. They also, despite being above-average in intelligence, seemed no better than the average women at avoiding really poor choices in boyfriends.

    Seeing a chick ace a calculus test while sporting a shiner from her boyfriend is a bizarre experience.

  31. jakee308
    May 18th, 2014 @ 5:13 am

    It’s akin to the nerds who couldn’t get laid.

  32. Women, Menses and Math - BitsBlog
    May 18th, 2014 @ 7:14 am

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  33. M. Thompson
    May 18th, 2014 @ 11:35 am

    Crazy hot, some of them!

    Like my ex!

  34. News of the Week (May 18th, 2014) | The Political Hat
    May 18th, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

    […] ‘Superior Male Mathematical Ability’ In fact, differences between males and females in terms of mathematical aptitude have been the subject of feminist protest for decades. In his 1999 book The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature, sociologist Morton Hunt recounted an earlier uproar over the same basic topic […]

  35. News of the Week (May 18th, 2014) | The Political Hat
    May 18th, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

    […] ‘Superior Male Mathematical Ability’ In fact, differences between males and females in terms of mathematical aptitude have been the subject of feminist protest for decades. In his 1999 book The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature, sociologist Morton Hunt recounted an earlier uproar over the same basic topic […]

  36. K-Bob
    May 18th, 2014 @ 6:47 pm


  37. Bob Belvedere
    May 18th, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

    Indeed…that is the danger.

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