How often we are in Mathematics faced with the fact that our profession was, and still is, quite female-starved; that boys and men are thought to be better at math than girls and women (an amazingly ridiculous thought, given my view up here!). So many recent studies seem to point decidedly at the dangerous effects of a person's perceptions of ability at the moment of evaluation and how easily they can affect performance. For example, reminding students of a stereotype they conform to just before taking a math test tends to degrade performance. This slow drip of research exposing the damaging effects of culture bias and preconceptions on lack of ability can only have a good effect in the long run. And I do see here at Hopkins some light in the form of a general welcoming attitude and positive outreach to students studying higher mathematics regardless of gender. But it does seem that this huge ship turns only very slowly.
Over at the online newspaper, the Huffington Post, Cailin O’Connor, a Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine, details some of the evidence that runs contrary to the notion of an innate gender bias in mathematical ability here:
I agree, but still love seeing the rising tide of evidence condemning the idea that math is more a male thing. Geez!