Decoding Why Few Girls Choose Science, Math (

Stories like this one have been making the rounds, probably in response to the unfortunate remarks which Harvard University President Lawrence Summers made last month that suggested that innate differences between men and women might be responsible for the differences that the two sexes demonstrate in math and sciences.

Unfortunately, in all of the these stories that I have read, they neglect one thing which seemed obvious to me:

Teachers and scientists say that there are greater differences in learning styles within each sex than there are between the sexes and that any school or teacher that doesn’t approach students as individuals is missing the mark.

The problem with bad schools (of which there are plenty) and bad educational practices (ditto) is that they try to take the shortcut and stereotype the failures and successes of individual students by some overly simplistic indicator. “Girls aren’t good at math because they are more social.” “Boys are less afraid of being wrong.” “Girls are collaborative.” “Boys are programmed for conflict.”

There are certainly lessons to be learned. Every teacher should examine his actions and try to decide whether his actions are somehow biased towards outcomes for any of his students. Every child should enjoy an atmosphere where they are welcome and encouraged. How much should we do? All that we can, and all that they need, for each individual student.