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Girls and Math: Enough is Known for Action (18 years later)

I wrote this piece 18 years ago. Yes you read that correctly. It's been 18 years since I wrote:

The great preponderance of evidence indicates there is no "math gene." Sex differences in mathematics achievement have become small enough in most areas to become negligible. While society may change fast enough for this to happen, biology doesn't. Genetic differences tend to remain stable, but sex differences in mathematics achievement are decreasing.

Sex differences in such traditionally "masculine" areas as spatial relations have been eliminated by changing teaching practices and providing both girls and boys with opportunities to build their skills. Practice can improve many things, but not genes.

The question we should be asking is not "is there a math gene?" but rather "Why are there so many fewer women than men in math-related fields, when the sex differences are so small?"
Researchers and practitioners, scholars and activists need to join together, to share what we know and to learn from each other. Those whose major interest is in equity must be involved in math reform efforts to ensure that these efforts are equitable, and those whose major interest is in math reform must be involved in equity efforts to ensure that these efforts are effective.

Heck I could probably publish the paper today as "cutting edge." Even more cutting edge is the quote from Senator Paul Tsongas that I used to end the paper:

"Equal opportunity, we have learned, is more than an open gate. It is the appropriate complement of skills and fundamental self-esteem that makes the open gate meaningful. To just open the gate is to engage in a cruel gesture, no matter how innocently it is done."

Those cruel gestures have gone on far too long; they must stop!