Friday, February 27, 2015

On Polymaths and Gender

On Wednesday's post, I mentioned the "Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals, and connected it to STEM and gender expectations. The data shows that boys and girls are equally gifted in mathematics and science. It is culture that influences our expectations... for performance, for grades, for abilities, and for careers.

Culture that often encourages girls to be "perfect:" perfect grades, perfect looks, perfect activities, perfect homes, perfect careers. In a Psychology Today post, Dara Chadwick suggests that confronting perfectionism begins with admitting that we ourselves are not perfect. This is one of the reasons I try to write about the harder times in my life, about failing an elective. The writing's not always good, no post is ever perfect... it is what it is.

Boys may be allowed to slack off in school, especially if they are athletic. When I had my Day on Campus to register for my first classes at Purdue, a speaker told the parents and students gathered that they had observed when students struggle with classes, the young men tended to blame the teacher, for not teaching well. The young women... tended to blame themselves.

In 2011, the New York Times wrote an article suggesting that Science Majors change their minds, because they get better grades elsewhere. Combine the grading with a push for perfect GPAs... and more women will be directed to "follow their strengths."