Author Topic: Mathematics and the Male brain  (Read 6918 times)

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Offline KarlMars

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Mathematics and the Male brain
« on: March 07, 2016, 10:00:15 pm »
Do you believe that being better at math has anything to do with the male brain? I can't do math very well at all. When I was in the remedial math class there were mostly guys in it.

Offline Paul Muad-Dib

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2016, 06:35:11 am »
No.

I sucked at math all through school. Didn't grasp a word of it.

Teachers put me in the lowest set for maths in high school and my parents freaked about it. They went in and demanded I be moved from this set where nobody was learning anything and the teacher didn't seem to give a <poo> either and ordered me moved into the highest set for maths on the condition I "prove" my ability wasn't a write-off. My dad taught me after school and I worked my ass off. Got top marks. This probably had a whole lot to do with my confidence being destroyed in school by bad maths teachers and the fact my father was an adept and accomplished teacher himself.

Mathematical ability has nothing to do with what sex brain you have but how you are taught in my opinon. I was bad because the teaching was bad, I started to doubt my own ability, hated and feared the subject and ended up in a vicious cycle that was easily broken within a year by some decent coaching and a willingness to succeed.

Offline suzifrommd

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 06:58:11 am »
Do you believe that being better at math has anything to do with the male brain? I can't do math very well at all. When I was in the remedial math class there were mostly guys in it.

I know many women who excel at math and numerical subjects.

OTOH, for some reason I can't explain, it seems more males than females seem to enjoy it. Might be the social aspect. The need for companionship and cooperation seems to be found more often in females than males. Math and computer work tends to be a solitary pursuit more of the time.
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Offline KathyLauren

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 07:07:11 am »
In high school, I was the top of my class in math.  I entered several provincial math contests and won a couple.  My recollection is that there were more girls than boys entering the contests from my class.

'Course, now, many years later, I find out that I have a female brain.   ???
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Offline Elis

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2016, 08:29:59 am »
I was really bad at maths and couldn't grasp it at all. I was put into the lowest set at secondary school because of it. From the articles I've read girls do better than boys at maths in school. Maybe due to the social aspect; but I think due to girls being able to generally concentrate better than boys. Whether that's down to nature or nurture who knows.
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Offline Eva Marie

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2016, 09:09:46 am »
For me learning a new subject has more to do with the teacher and the book. I'm currently working on my computer science degree and there is a TON of math to get through. I was doing OK with all of the math until this semester when the combination of a horrible textbook and a teacher that was whipping through the subject without explaining anything caused me to get stuck on some topics leading to me withdrawing from the class. I plan to do studying over the summer using a different textbook and will take another swing at it in the fall.

I don't believe that men have an inherent ability to do math and women don't - I think we all have different ways of learning and the way math is taught today works against the way that women learn.

Offline KarlMars

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2016, 10:24:29 am »
No.

I sucked at math all through school. Didn't grasp a word of it.

Teachers put me in the lowest set for maths in high school and my parents freaked about it. They went in and demanded I be moved from this set where nobody was learning anything and the teacher didn't seem to give a <poo> either and ordered me moved into the highest set for maths on the condition I "prove" my ability wasn't a write-off. My dad taught me after school and I worked my ass off. Got top marks. This probably had a whole lot to do with my confidence being destroyed in school by bad maths teachers and the fact my father was an adept and accomplished teacher himself.

Mathematical ability has nothing to do with what sex brain you have but how you are taught in my opinon. I was bad because the teaching was bad, I started to doubt my own ability, hated and feared the subject and ended up in a vicious cycle that was easily broken within a year by some decent coaching and a willingness to succeed.

Your father sounds great. I'm discouraged because many jobs/careers I'm looking into say they require math, yet I've known a lot of men who did similar jobs who had mental disabilities or were illiterate.

Online Devlyn

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2016, 10:35:01 am »
Do you believe that being better at math has anything to do with the male brain? I can't do math very well at all. When I was in the remedial math class there were mostly guys in it.

No, I believe that's stereotyping at it's finest. 
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Offline KarlMars

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2016, 10:45:30 am »
No, I believe that's stereotyping at it's finest.

One thing I've noticed is that many binary trans people are more interested in fitting gender stereotypes than cis people. Some cis people I know call me sexist and think my perception is warped. If it is I don't know how else to think. When I look at the way different people perceive the world around them and themselves in relation I keep thinking we all might as well mentally be on our own planet. It reminds me of the song by Louis Armstrong "What a wonderful world".

Offline suzifrommd

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2016, 11:05:12 am »
No, I believe that's stereotyping at it's finest.

As a teacher in a mathematically related field, I can state that the phenomenon is 100% real even if the reasons are obscure.

In the introductory classes in my subject, the ratio of boys to girls is 1 to 1. In the intermediate classes and advanced classes it's about 5 to 1. This held true both when male teachers and when female teachers taught the introductory classes. It held true when a male (me) taught the intermediate and advanced classes and holds equally true now that a female (still me) teaches them.

Given that these are elective classes that students choose whether or not to sign up for, one must concluded that males prefer to study this subject in depth in much greater numbers than females. This is not stereotyping. It's factual observation of a phenomenon that has held steady during the entire 15 years I've been teaching this subject.
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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2016, 11:06:57 am »
That's unusual. The stereotype is that males are better in math, and I've never known many males who are bad at math. In my year, the class for remedial math is mainly female.

I always did well in math.

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2016, 11:08:14 am »
No, I believe that's stereotyping at it's finest.

As a teacher in a mathematically related field, I can state that the phenomenon is 100% real even if the reasons are obscure.

In the introductory classes in my subject, the ratio of boys to girls is 1 to 1. In the intermediate classes and advanced classes it's about 5 to 1. This held true both when male teachers and when female teachers taught the introductory classes. It held true when a male (me) taught the intermediate and advanced classes and holds equally true now that a female (still me) teaches them.

Given that these are elective classes that students choose whether or not to sign up for, one must concluded that males prefer to study this subject in depth in much greater numbers than females. This is not stereotyping. It's factual observation of a phenomenon that has held steady during the entire 15 years I've been teaching this subject.

Do you believe this has to do with the student's brain, though, or external influence? The O/P asked if it was the male brain that was responsible.

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Offline Laura_7

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2016, 11:25:02 am »

Do you believe this has to do with the student's brain, though, or external influence? The O/P asked if it was the male brain that was responsible.

Hugs, Devlyn

I  have read an analysis stating that.
Its like hardwired, and akin to art it seems to be a talent.
So it can be made up for within boundaries ... but the notion that all people equally should be able to pick it up is simply not true  :)


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Offline Tysilio

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2016, 12:46:02 pm »
It does seem to be the case that on average, boys do better at math.

However -- if, as we generally insist, gender exists on a very wide spectrum (i.e. "male vs. female" is a gross oversimplification), and if gender is at least somewhat hardwired in the brain, doesn't it follow that "male brain vs. female brain" is also a gross oversimplification?

So if we're going to make claims about mathematical ability being hardwired and having something to do with gender, we should first acknowledge that it's also not going to be a dichotomous variable.

There's also an age-related social variable: in grade school, girls tend to do as well or better in all academic subjects. But when they get to middle school, there's enormous social pressure NOT to outshine the boys, because the boys don't like it, and neither do many of the teachers. The "popular" girls are seldom if ever the brainy ones. Funnily enough, they start teaching advanced math (algebra, trigonometry, etc.) just at the time when girls start being rewarded for playing dumb.

And it wouldn't be surprising if puberty also plays a part in this, but that, um, gets complicated.
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Offline suzifrommd

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2016, 12:49:53 pm »
Do you believe this has to do with the student's brain, though, or external influence? The O/P asked if it was the male brain that was responsible.

I don't know for sure if it has to do with the brain. As a possible reason, I consider that a strong candidate.

My personal belief is that there are biological differences that make the experience of being female tend to be different from the experience of being male, and that this may be one case where we see those differences at work.
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Offline Paul Muad-Dib

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2016, 01:16:55 pm »
According to studies males are statistically better with abstract reasoning/tasks, spatial awareness tasks and so on, which math relates to.

But I would consider that a potential aptitude probably based on testosterone and say that hormone's supposed effect of enabling concentration on specific tasks more easily, not an inherent ability in all males due to a male brain. I know males who utterly suck at math, and females who don't - is it due to the hormones milling around in their bodies and not the sex of their brain? I've seen threads around here talking about how HRT often brings mental changes in line with gender expectations from those kinds of stats.

I don't have a genetic male brain, but I can read a map like nobody's business, and spatial tasks are fairly easy for me. And once I learned the rules of math properly it's like a cookbook - you can't go wrong, it's simple enough if you have the formula - all the more simple for being a subject that has absolutely correct or incorrect answers with no inbetweens and plenty of reliable patterns or methods. In that sense if the teaching is sound, there's nobody who should struggle with it unless there are some learning difficulties preventing it. I've always found science subjects to be almost self-explanatory. It's not some inherent ability to pick up stuff at the drop of a hat or I wouldn't have had to work at the math. But the fact I could work at the math and become good shows there's really no barrier.

Ever heard that stereotype that East Asians (as in Chinese, Koreans, Japanese etc.) are all great at math? Oddly enough most of the East Asians I know are - including the women. I don't think that's because East Asians have brains that are genetically better suited for abstract reasoning. I honestly think the secret is in how they learn and how they're taught. Schooling systems are fairly uniform within countries with the majority of schools government funded and supervised, teaching in a specific manner. I know after spending some time abroad that all the E. Asian schools I was interested in were teaching math, languages and art in such a way that most of the students coming out were much better on average at all of these than the ones in the UK I went to, and the quality of the art was also on average more accomplished, and a lot of it seems to be down to attitude, how seriously kids take their education and so on. Some students are naturally more gifted at picking up subjects than others, but imo it has to be the method, for the most part, and perhaps the way students apply themselves/parental expectations/culture etc.

I suspect in the UK the perceived importance of education is less, parental expectations are in general lower, (testing/competition is definitely more relaxed than in E. Asian schools) and there's been a significant dumbing-down of the subject of math in UK schools over the last 50 yrs. I found an old C.S.E. book from my dad's stint in the same school I attended years later and the difficulty of the C.S.E. material compared to that in my G.C.S.E blew my mind. The fact kids were still finding math difficult at the level in my time at the same school points in my view to poorer teaching and a far more lax attitude to the subject. Then there's the fact that a kid like me who was continuously <poo> at math until forced to do better would have just continued to suck at it if not for my parents refusing to allow the "streaming system" to condemn me to a naff grade.

Offline Deborah

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2016, 03:10:30 pm »
Lots of trans people are good at math.  I always was when I took the time to actually study. 

I wonder if there is any data to support trans people of both spectrums from being strong in those tasks "stereotypically" considered strong in both genders?  Maybe it would be connected to greater connectivity between the brain hemispheres. 

Something like this wouldn't be exclusive to trans people but might occur with greater frequency than it does in the general population.


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Offline KathyLauren

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2016, 04:14:34 pm »
Lots of trans people are good at math.  I always was when I took the time to actually study. 

I wonder if there is any data to support trans people of both spectrums from being strong in those tasks "stereotypically" considered strong in both genders?  Maybe it would be connected to greater connectivity between the brain hemispheres. 

Something like this wouldn't be exclusive to trans people but might occur with greater frequency than it does in the general population.


Sapere Aude
Actually, a post of yours in another thread got me thinking of another explanation.  Maybe we trans folks just try harder because we are trying to earn some measure of respect or acceptance from our parents.  I know I did.  Doing well at academic subjects was about the only way I could get my parents to acknowledge me.
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Offline KarlMars

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2016, 02:47:36 am »
I don't know for sure if it has to do with the brain. As a possible reason, I consider that a strong candidate.

My personal belief is that there are biological differences that make the experience of being female tend to be different from the experience of being male, and that this may be one case where we see those differences at work.

I avoided most female experiences in my life without realizing quite how much until adulthood.

Offline KarlMars

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Re: Mathematics and the Male brain
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2016, 02:51:21 am »
I wonder if the US is worse at math than Britain.

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