Math can be a formula for success. / Thomas Tolstrup/Getty Images
It’s a myth that girls underperform in the math department. In fact, high school girls tend to score just as well, if not better, than their male counterparts. So what’s with the belief that girls don’t “do” math?
“It's a self-confidence issue,” says Danica McKellar, former child star of TV’s The Wonder Years and author of Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. “Girls are brought up to believe that they aren’t supposed to be good in math, so they get it in their heads that they don’t belong in math or sciences.”
In fact, 40% of women today in science and engineering fields were discouraged at some point in their academic career, according to a study from the American Association of University Women.
“As math gets more challenging in junior high, girls become more aware of those stereotypes and fear math,” says McKellar. thinks that is why so many girls drop math as soon as they can despite good grades.
“Besides opening up a world of better-paying careers, doing math is excellent for building confidence and strengthening the mind,” says McKellar. “Math is a language, and we can talk about anything in the language of math: taxes, shoe sales and even the chemical formula in your favorite lip gloss.”