Ruby's Corner

Math Is Your Friend! reminded me the other day about a problem that won’t go away: pitting boys against girls when it comes to anything and everything. In this case, math and a report that MSNBC published. There are so many things I find offensive about the MSNBC story, but one of them is that MSNBC is talking about a study that was conducted in 2002, about teacher bias towards girls when it comes to math, but really, all I got from this “story” was the reminder that Girls Are Just Dumb At Math.

Which is probably the most STUPID thing I have ever heard. Not because girls are better than boys, but because YOUR GENDER DOESN’T DICTATE WHETHER YOU ARE GOOD AT MATH OR NOT. Math may not be my best subject, but I know that all the girls and boys in my grade are at different levels in what they get or don’t get. And it’s not a boy-thing, or a girl-thing; it’s a do-I-get-this-or-not thing.

I am so tired of sexism. And in particular, the stereotypes associated with girls and boys: girls can’t play baseball, girls suck at video games, girls are bad at math. And while we here at HelloGiggles know that’s not true, I’m worried that the rest of the world doesn’t know things like this: Girls aren’t “better” at math than boys. Boys aren’t “better” at math than girls. Girls have proven that they can be funny, play sports well  and can kill it at video games and yet sterotypes still exist. Why? I have no idea.

So what can we do?

  1. Clean House: I think we should come up with a list of things we can do together to get rid of stereotypes. We’re doing it here at HelloGiggles – celebrating our lives, figuring it out, being of equal value – but we have to keep pushing the envelope, keep figuring it out, keep breaking through these dumb sexist things. Which leads me to my next point.
  2. Locate, Locate, Locate: Obviously, the stereotypes aren’t just these three things (sports, video games, liking the color blue); they’re in every part of our lives. Where are they? Where do you see stereotypes in your day-to-day life? In the big picture?
  3. Conversate It: So that brings me to the last point. Let’s talk about it, not just here – although this is an awesome place to start – but outside HelloGiggles. Bring it up when you’re at school, or with your friends. If you meet someone who does want to put you as a boy or as a girl in a stereotypical box, don’t walk away, talk to that person about it. You may not change their mind, but at least you’ve opened up a dialogue that that person may not have ever had before.

In order for girls and boys to be of equal value, we have to work with each other to come up with ways where Gender is not the basis for competition, but rather, achievement. I played Math games with some of my friends the other night, and it wasn’t a boy vs. girl thing, not at all. And it was great. I didn’t feel like a girl; I felt like a person who could figure out a math problem. That’s the world I like to live in, when it’s not about gender, it’s about knowledge. Yes, it would be nice for competition to be eliminated altogether, but then we’d have to give up the Oscars, and no one wants that, right?

Chalkboard equations image via ShutterStock