The New York Times has a big science article today about differences between the sexes in math ability.
This article does not say that "everyone knows" that there's no difference between the sexes. Instead, the article hesitatingly presents evidence that such differences exist. Hesitatingly because it's considered politically incorect to suggest that every human brain does not have exactly the same potential.
"We can't get anywhere denying that there are neurological and hormonal differences between males and females, because there clearly are," said Virginia Valian, a psychology professor at Hunter College.
We begin with a supporting quote from a professor.
[N]ew brain imaging studies from the University of California, Irvine, suggest that men and women with equal I.Q. scores use different proportions of their gray and white matter when solving problems like those on intelligence tests.
You read about that here first.
Nor is the masculine edge in math unique to the United States. In an international standardized test administered in 2003 by the international research group Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to 250,000 15-year-olds in 41 countries, boys did moderately better on the math portion in just over half the nations.
The difference is not unique to the culture of the United States but is worldwide. What the article doesn't mention is that, math excepted, girls are better students than boys.
Interestingly, in Iceland and everywhere else, girls participating in the survey expressed far more negative attitudes toward math.
It's a worldwide thing that girls don't like math. Once again, a sex difference not specific to U.S. culture. But note that just because people don't like a subject doesn't necessarily mean they do poorly in it. Girls in Iceland obviously have very good study habits.
But when it comes to selecting a career, obviously girls who don't like math will not choose a career that's math intensive.
[T]he overwhelmingly male tails of the bell curve may be telling. Such results, taken together with assorted other neuro-curiosities like the comparatively greater number of boys with learning disorders, autism and attention deficit disorder, suggest to them that the male brain is a delicate object, inherently prone to extremes, both of incompetence and of genius.
The meaning of the previous paragraph should be obvious if you understand statistics.
In many formerly male-dominated fields like medicine and law, women have already reached parity, at least at the entry levels. At the undergraduate level, women outnumber men in some sciences like biology.
This is a very important point. In all prestigious fields previously considered to be "male," women have now achieved parity in numbers, with the exception of math heavy careers. In fact, law and medicine both have greater prestige than engineering or computer programming!
The politically correct theory, that girls shy away from masculine activities in school because they are afraid that boys won't go on dates with them, makes absolutely no sense. (1) Math isn't especially masculine, no boy wants to do well at math so he can impress girls, trust me. (2) In every prestigious non-math field previously considered masculine, women have reached parity.
I think it's unfortunate that women have less aptitude with math (or maybe just a biologically influenced dislike of math), but we should take pride in those subjects in which we have greater aptitude than men instead of whining about non-existent discrimination in math intensive fields.