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Mothers, Daughters and Math May Not Mix...

According to a recent New York Times article mothers talk less to their young daughters about math.  It goes on to say that our failure to do so causes our daughters to believe that they are less competent at math and ultimately underperform in math at school. 

Apparently the differences in how mothers interact with their sons and their daughters about math starts while they are toddlers.  Based on my experience, I have some thoughts about that.

I think that the parents above probably weren't emphasizing numbers with the girls because they were too busy telling them how pretty or cute they are. I imagine that when you're not focused on looks you do find other more meaningful things to discuss.

In our culture, being handsome as a boy is bonus. However, being pretty as a girl is emphasized and encouraged. It sounds like we need to teach our girls that they need to impress us with their smarts (counting, etc.) instead of merely charming us with their looks.

My daughter will be 17 months old tomorrow. Based on my observations, I think that parents, and everyone else, interacts differently with boys than girls.

I think that it is easy to be led astray if you are not careful. You've seen my daughter's photos, she is a cute little girl.  However, her looks will not determine her potential.  And at home we need to emphasize other things besides her cuteness. Especially since everywhere we go people fawn. 

I think that people fawn over babies in general.  But after a certain age it seems like people just want to compliment the little girls but choose to ask the little boys to "perform".  They ask them to give them five" or count for them. The girls learn that their appearance is most important. And the boys learn that they need to master a skill in order to be recognized.

I'm no expert.  These are just my observations.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that parents interact with sons and daughters different about math?

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