The AWM endorses the People’s Climate March on September 21st in New York City in support of the UN Climate Summit’s goal of achieving an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. The march is “centered on justice: committed to principles of environmental justice and equality.” We encourage you to join the March in New York City or another event in your region. The preponderance of published evidence points toward human contributions to global climate change and the logical conclusion is that action is needed to lower risks and costs.
This app was based on the 50-ft-long informational graphic titled “Men of Modern Mathematics,” covering 1000 years of math-related events, quotes, artifacts, and mathematicians. After some complaints, it was renamed “Minds of Modern Mathematics.”
The AWM response by President Jill Pipher was the following letter, which was also posted to Eames’ facebook page:
April 2, 2012
The Eames Office
850 Pico Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90405
The Eames Office “Men of Modern Mathematics” poster is well known in the mathematical community. I
have read with interest about the creation of a modern iPad app of the timeline, because the poster
included only one woman (Hypatia) and mostly Western mathematicians.
In response to a Facebook post on February 19th from Liz McMahon asking about the inclusion of more
women, the Eames Office mentions that “Step 1 is the timeline as you know it.” I would urge you to
rethink that stance as I see that the name of the App has been changed to “Minds of Modern
Mathematics”. Having an App by that new title with the 1961 information might give people a mistaken
impression about the prevalence of women and minorities in mathematics. Since the time of the
creation of the poster there has been great interest in as well as an abundance of historical research and publications related to the contributions of women and minorities in mathematics, contributions from non-
Western cultures and the development of the field of ethnomathematics.
One source I would recommend is a time-line poster “Women of Mathematics” produced by The
Mathematical Association of America and Sun Microsystems, which mostly covers the dates 1700
through 2000. http://www.maa.org/pubs/posterW.pdf
Jill Pipher, President
Association for Women in Mathematics
2011 Publication of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article “Understanding Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science”
Critique by mathematics education consultant and former AWM President Cathy Kessel and University of Oregon mathematics professor Marie A. Vitulli:
Here are some criticisms of Ceci and Williams’s “Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science.” This article, which appeared in the February 7, 2011 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, repeats many arguments in Ceci and Williams’ book The Mathematics of Sex (reviewed in the May-June 2010 Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter and discussed further in the November-December 2010 Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter).
The article discusses “math-intensive fields.” The meaning of this term is not given explicitly, but is suggested by the lists in the Supporting Information (SI text): computer science, chemistry, economics, mathematics, physics, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Psychology and biology are considered not to be math-intensive fields.
Inaccurate title and abstract. Despite its title and abstract, “Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science” appears to be a discussion of women’s underrepresentation at the top 100 or research-intensive academic institutions, rather than their overall participation in academic and non-academic science. Women are half of the full-time permanent faculty in mathematics departments at two-year colleges (see CBMS 2005 Survey, p. 170). This survey occurs as reference 4 in the PNAS article’s supporting information). Women are 28% of tenure-track mathematics faculty in BA-granting institutions, 33% in MA-granting institutions, and 24% at PhD-granting institutions (see CBMS 2005 Survey, p. 104). In all fields of science, National Science Foundation statistics show a consistent trend over the past three decades: increase in percentages of women earning PhDs and in tenure-track and tenured positions (see Thirty-three Years of Women in S&E Faculty Positions, reference 3 in the PNAS article’s supporting information).
Misleading use of “orders of magnitude.” Paragraph 1 of the PNAS article says:
Since 1970, women have made dramatic gains in science. Today, half of all MD degrees and 52% of PhDs in life sciences are awarded to women, as are 57% of PhDs in social sciences, 71% of PhDs to psychologists, and 77% of DVMs to veterinarians. Forty years ago, women’s presence in most of these fields was several orders of magnitude less; e.g., in 1970 only 13% of PhDs in life sciences went to women (1). In the most math-intensive fields, however, women’s growth has been less pronounced (2-4).
The reader might conclude that increase of women’s share of PhDs, as measured by order of magnitude, was smaller in math-intensive fields than in other scientific fields. In fact, the opposite is true. Measured in orders of magnitude, growth in women’s share of PhDs has been far greater in engineering than in psychology or biology. The percentage of engineering PhDs that went to women was 0.5% in 1970 but 20.2% in 2006, a forty-fold increase. In contrast, for psychology, it was 23.5% in 1970 and 71.3% in 2006, a three-fold increase. Increases for mathematics and physical sciences fall between these extremes. (For statistics, see Thirty-three Years of Women in S&E Faculty Positions.)
Misquoted statistics. Paragraph 1 of the PNAS article says:
Among the top 100 US universities, only 8.8-15.8% of tenure-track positions in many math-intensive fields (combined across ranks) are held by women, and female full professors number ≤10%. (SI Text, S1)
The 8.8-15.8% comes from percentages for positions at “all ranks” in economics, chemistry, mathematics, computer sciemce, astronomy, physics, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering in a survey conducted by Nelson and Brammer in 2007. The survey did not collect statistics on tenure status. The corresponding percentages for assistant professors are 18.0-30.8%. See Table 11 of Nelson and Brammer’s survey. This survey occurs as reference 1 in the PNAS article’s supporting information (SI Text).
Thus, the article attempts to explain percentages for “all ranks” at top 100 institutions with studies of current hiring. However, percentages of women in all faculty ranks reflect past as well as current hiring and promotion practices.
No analysis of journal acceptance rates in math-intensive fields. Ceci and Williams recount studies of journal acceptance rates in ecology and evolution as well as biogeography and neuroscience. However, women’s representation in these fields is greater than in fields such as physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. We would like to see studies of journal acceptance rates in the latter fields.
“If women applied for positions at R1 institutions, they had a better chance of being interviewed and receiving offers than male job candidates.”
Ceci and Williams comment: “These results are inconsistent with initiatives promoting gender sensitivity training for search committees and grant panels, which assume bias in funding and hiring of women (ref. 47, also see refs. 11, 56, and 57). Such initiatives target historical rather than current problems facing women scientists.” This seems to refer to selected aspects of the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program and related initiatives. Some chronology may be helpful.
ADVANCE was established in 2001. Its description begins: “The goal of the ADVANCE program is to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce.”
Data for the NRC study of hiring discussed by Ceci and Williams were collected at Research 1 institutions for 2002-03 and 2003-04 hires in biology, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, and physics. At that time, ADVANCE was its infancy.
There seem to be no recent overall statistics for the percentage of women among tenure-track and faculty at such institutions. However, at PhD-granting mathematics departments, women went from 20% of tenure-track faculty in 2000 to 24% in 2005 (CBMS Survey, p. 104). Statistics for 2002 and 2005 from Nelson and Brammer’s survey show increases in percentages of female assistant professors in “math-intensive” fields (see November-December 2010 AWM Newsletter or Nelson and Brammer’s survey). At the top 50 mathematics departments, women were 19.6% of assistant professors in 2002, but 28.0% in 2007. Some corresponding percentages for other fields are: 10.8% to 19.5% in computer science; 15.7% to 18.2% in mechanical engineering; 30.4% to 36.0% in biological sciences. This is consistent with the hypothesis that ADVANCE’s attention to hiring practices increased the percentage of women hired. Moreover, Ceci and Williams fail to note that such attention to hiring practices includes more than a discussion of bias.
Issues of statistical sampling are ignored, e.g., selection bias. The 1.6 million talent search scores collected over 30 years by Wai et al. (ref. 60) may sound impressive, but as Wai et al. note, the sample was not random. (For further discussion of this study, see the September-October 2010 AWM Newsletter.) Likewise, selection bias can also explain why, in the presence of gender discrimination, female scientists might still fare as well as their male colleagues in some respects if their work was better on average than that of their male peers. Studies that compare approval rates by gender with application rates by gender do not address this objection. As described by Ceci and Williams, the studies documented by references 31-33, 36-46 are of this nature.
What does the right-tail study tell us? The study by Wai et al. focuses on SAT-M and ACT test results of 7th graders. Andreescu et al. in their article “Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving” (Notices of the AMS 2008, p. 1248-1260) point out that these particular tests can not predict who will become research mathematicians.
Since these tests lack questions that require creative thinking and insight into higher-level mathematical concepts, they do not identify childeren with extermely high innate ability in mathematics, thas is, ones who may go on to become top research mathematicians.
Andreescu et al. demonstrate that some Asian and Eastern European countries often produce girls with profound ability in mathematical problem solving, whereas other countries including the USA do not. Thus the results of Wai et al. are not replicated across other cultures and do not explain the underrepresentation of women in mathematics or other math-intensive sciences.
Omission of conflicting evidence and hypotheses. The article cites the National Research Council study Gender Differences at Critical Transitions, but does not mention the findings that suggest female scientists don’t fare as well as male scientists in day-to-day interactions. For example, “Female faculty reported that they were less likely to engage in conversation with their colleagues on a wide range of professional topics” (Finding 4-7, p. 145). These topics included research, salary, and benefits. The report notes, “This distance may prevent women from accessing important information and may make them feel less included and more marginalized in their professional lives.&rdquoMoreover, the study documented in Gender Differences at Critical Transitions found that women were underrepresented among candidates for tenure relative to the number of women assistant professors (Finding 5-1, p. 147), and were less likely to receive tenure (Finding 5-2, p. 147). This is consistent with the explanations in the conclusion of the article. However, like NRC Finding 4-7, it is also consistent with the hypothesis mentioned in Gender Differences at Critical Transitions (p. 278) that some women find the climate to be chilly at certain research-intensive institutions. (Note that women earn their PhDs at such institutions.) However, this chilly climate hypothesis is not considered. Consistent with this chilly climate hypothesis is Finding 3-8: “The percentage of women on the search committee and whether a woman chaired the committee were both significantly and positively associated with the percentage of women in the applicant pool” (p. 67). This is also consistent with the NRC finding that “the number of family-friendly policies advertised by the institution did not appear to be associated with the percentage of female applicants” (p. 50). However, the explanation may be that some are aware that they may be stigmatized for using the policies and require further evidence of family-friendliness. (See p. 17 of Designing and Implementing Family-Friendly Policies in Higher Education.)Furthermore, the two-body problem is not discussed, despite the fact that it occurs in the title of reference 63. Female scientists are more likely to be part of a two-scientist couple than are male scientists. Women in the natural sciences and engineering are more likely to be partnered with someone in the same field than are female social scientists (see Dual-Career Academic Couples, especially Figure 13, and November-December 2009 AWM Newsletter).Comment. Publicity related to articles like the PNAS article creates a situation in which scientists may often perceive only two choices:
do not respond to colleagues or the public about the article;
formulate an accurate response, by taking the time to read the article and the studies it cites.
More care in writing and refereeing articles like “Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science” would reduce the burden of the second choice, which is likely to fall disproportionately on women.
2010 Publication of the New York Times articles “Daring to Discuss Women in Science” (June 8) and “Legislation Won’t Close Gender Gap in Sciences” (June 15).
Letter (unpublished) from AWM President to the New York Times:
John Tierney’s remarks about women in mathematics and science do not reflect current reality. Although, in the past, the proportions of women entering mathematics remained stable for decades or declined, since the 1970s, women have entered mathematics and science in greater and greater numbers. Now, five years after Lawrence Summers’ remarks, the news is even better.
In mathematics, the proportion of assistant professors at U.S. research universities who are women is currently the same as the proportion of women who earn Ph.D. degrees, about 30%. However, the same National Research Council study that documents this and other welcome changes also provides evidence that socio-cultural barriers remain, and women with mathematics Ph.D.s are not as equitably represented in the higher faculty ranks of research universities.
We call on educational and governmental leaders to continue their positive actions to encourage the influx of women and minorities into mathematics, science, and engineering.
President, Association for Women in Mathematics
June 10, 2010
AWM Newsletter articles by former AWM President and Education Committee Chair Cathy Kessel :
David Porush, MentorNet CEO; reprinted by permission fromMentorNet News, July 2010, www.mentornet.net/documents/about/news/july2010/news1.aspx
In back-to-back articles in the New York Times on June 7 and June 14, John Tierney claims that there is no real gender bias in “math-related sciences.” Instead, he suggests, all disparities between the number of women and men in these fields can be explained by biological differences in the brain and by “personal preferences.” Tierney critiques legislation by the Senate funding an NSF initiative to “enhance gender equality” in academic science, defends controversial Lawrence H. Summers’ remarks about biological differences between men and women, and refers to studies that find little evidence of gender discrimination, preferential differences, or physiological differences between the brains of men and women. “Men are more interested in working with things, while women are more interested in working with people,” Tierney concludes. “I’d love to see more girls pursuing careers in science (and more women reading science columns), but I wish we’d encourage their individual aspirations instead of obsessing about group disparities.”Tierney’s remarks are needlessly inflammatory. The grounds of the discussion about biological differences is inherently polarizing, discriminatory, and sexist, leading to the worst kinds of biology-based prejudice. However, rather than even accepting and engaging Tierney on the terms he’d like to set for the debate, I’d like to offer a third way, the way of cognitivediversity.
First, let’s set aside the “personal preferences” junk. It’s trivial and trivializing. We know that preferences can be influenced and changed. Why else a multi-trillion dollar global advertising and marketing industry? Further, he willfully has chosen to ignore the force of thousands of narratives by women and people of other races—many of which we hear directly from MentorNet mentors and proteges—testifying to the personal discrimination and discouragement they faced as they strove to enter these disciplines. Even if biological differences between men and women accounted for significant cognitive effects in their practice of science and engineering—and I don’t suggest there are—such effects are easily trumped by social and political forces. Science and engineering are, after all, social and political enterprises. Serve on the editorial board of a scientific journal or go to faculty meetings at a major research university and you’ll quickly see the proof. They aren’t monoliths, but evolving institutions maintained by humans in service to humanity: all of it, not just the male majority.Meanwhile, there is a growing body of testimonials and evidence that science and engineering do a better job offinding and exploiting the truth when they include cognitive diversity arising from race, gender, ethnicity, experience—all without sacrificing rigor or skill. Without diversity of perspective and practice, we risk impoverishing the pursuit. We make ourselves more prone to groupthink and the tides of fashion. We design scissors only for righties.
The Senate, the NSF, MentorNet and our sister organizations share a mission to ensure that more women are encouraged to choose and persist in these disciplines, not because of some ideological devotion to equality for its own numerical sake, but to ensure that science and engineering do a better job of what they are meant to do: advance our collective understanding of and control over the forces and phenomena of the universe.
American Mathematical Society
Policy Statement on Supportive Practices and Ethics in the Employment of Young People in the Mathematical Sciences
Mathematics departments should make their students aware of the realities of the job market and should provide them the opportunity to prepare for a broad range of jobs in the mathematical sciences.
Employers have a responsibility to support the development of recent graduates, whether in temporary or potentially permanent positions, through mentoring and training in all aspects of professional life, and by integrating them into the scholarly life of the department.
Mathematics departments that offer temporary positions are urged to offer such positions for at least two years’ duration whenever possible. When a recent graduate is hired for only one year (e.g., to replace a permanent faculty member on sabbatical), it is especially important to attend to the professional development of the person hired. Colleges and Universities have a responsibility to permanently staff departments at sufficient levels, rather than continually relying on temporary non-tenure track faculty.
Recent graduates should be hired at salaries commensurate with national norms. In particular, the practice of hiring recent graduates by the course at sub-standard salaries is reprehensible and exploitative.
Adopted by the Council in March 2007 so as to speak in the name of the American Mathematical Society.
Regarding the 2006 Appointment by George W. Bush of Camilla Persson Benbow to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel:
AWM President-elect’s Statement of Concern
Statement from Cathy Kessel, President-elect of the Association for Women in Mathematics: To be read into the public record on June 29, 2006 at the second meeting of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
Background information approved by the Executive Committee of AWM
Text of the petition (below) approved by Executive Committee of AWM.
Link to electronically sign the petition .
The Association for Women in Mathematics represents a broad spectrum of the mathematics community, both women and men, from the United States and around the world. Our purpose is:
• to encourage women and girls to study and to have active careers in the mathematical sciences, and
• to promote equal opportunity and the equal treatment of women and girls in the mathematical sciences.
We are pleased that President Bush and Education Secretary Spellings recognize the importance of strengthening mathematics education, and have shown this by appointing a National Mathematics Advisory Panel. However, we have serious concerns about the panel as currently constituted. We would have preferred to see more mathematicians and more than 6 women on a panel of 17. But our greatest concern is that its vice-chair, Dr. Camilla Benbow, is best known for the hypothesis that there are inevitable gender differences in favor of males at the highest level of mathematical performance. This hypothesis has already done serious damage (citations are below); furthermore, there is substantive evidence against it (again, citations are below).
In 1980, Camilla Benbow and Julian Stanley published an article in Science reporting large gender differences in “mathematical reasoning ability.”[i] Their evidence was scores on the SAT taken by 7th graders as part of a talent search for a program at Johns Hopkins University. In their conclusion Benbow and Stanley explicitly favored (their word) “the hypothesis that sex differences in achievement in and attitude towards mathematics result from superior male mathematical ability . . . [which] is probably an expression of a combination of both endogenous and exogenous variables.”
The result of this article was, as Dr. Benbow and her colleagues noted twenty years later,[ii] a “media field day.” Headlines suggested that mathematical ability was determined at conception. Newsweek asked, “Do males have a math gene?” TIME reported that, “A new study says that males may be naturally abler [in mathematics] than females.” Science itself asked, “Are girls born with less [math] ability?” A 1986 study has documented the negative impact of this publicity on the expectations of both girls and their parents with respect to their achievement in mathematics.[iii]
Critiques of Benbow and Stanley’s work became a small industry in psychology. We consider only one issue on which all sides agree. If, indeed there is an innate gender imbalance in mathematical ability, then it should be roughly constant over time. But the available evidence does not support this.[iv] The male to female ratio of Hopkins talent search participants with scores over 700 has declined. In 1983, Benbow and Stanley reported a ratio of 13 boys to 1 girl between 1980 and 1982.[v] Hopkins researchers reported that the average was 5.7 to 1 between 1984 and 1991.[vi] Six years later, in 1997, Julian Stanley reported this ratio as 4 to 1.[vii] In 2005, Hopkins researchers reported this ratio as 3 to 1.[viii]
This reflects trends in other measures. For example, about one third of the PhDs in mathematics now go to women.[ix]
Despite these changes, the 1983 13 to 1 ratio, together with Dr. Benbow’s subsequent work, is still cited in the national media,[x],[xi],[xii] in works for general audiences,[xiii] and in academic writing.[xiv]
We hope that the National Mathematics Advisory Panel will debunk myths about mathematical ability and its relationship to gender, ethnicity, and race. We are concerned that Dr. Benbow is so closely identified with her 1983 statistics and hypothesis that her presence on the Panel signals – in perception or in reality – a bias against women and girls. The Panel is charged with fostering greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students. It would be unfortunate if its impact were just the opposite.
[i] C. P. Benbow and J. Stanley, “Sex differences in mathematical ability: fact or artifact?,” Science, 210, no. 12 (1980): 1262-1264, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/ScienceFactOrArtifact.pdf
[ii] C. P. Benbow, D. Lubinski, D. Shea, and H. Eftekhari-Sanjani, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability at Age 13: Their Status 20 Years Later,” Psychological Scientist, 11, no. 6 (2000): 474-487, p. 474, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/SexDiffs.pdf
[iii] J. Eccles and J. Jacobs, “Social Forces Shape Math Attitudes and Performance,” Signs, 11, no. 2 (1986): 367-380.
[iv] E. Spelke, “Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science?: A Critical Review,” American Psychologist,60, No. 9 (2005): 950–958, http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~lds/pdfs/spelke2005.pdf
[v] C. P. Benbow and J. Stanley, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Reasoning Ability: More Facts,” Science, 222 (1983): 1029–1031, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/ScienceMoreFacts.pdf
[vi] L. E. Brody, L. B. Barnett, and C. J. Mills, “Gender Differences Among Talented Adolescents: Research Studies by SMPY and CTY at Johns Hopkins,” in Competence and Responsibility: The Third European Conference of the European Council for High Ability, ed. K. A. Heller and E. A. Hany (Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber, 1994).
[vii] J. Stanley, Letter to the editor, Johns Hopkins Magazine, September, 1997,http://www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/0997web/letters.html
[viii] L. Brody & C. Mills, “Talent Search Research: What Have We Learned?,” High Ability Studies 16, No 1 (2005), p. 101, http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/chas/2005/00000016/00000001
[ix] Annual Survey of the Mathematical Sciences (AMS-ASA-IMS-MAA), Report on the 2004–2005 New Doctoral Recipients, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, (2006), p. 236, http://www.ams.org/employment/2005Survey-DG.pdf
[x] J. Leo, “What Larry Summers Meant to Say,” U.S. News and World Report, February 14, 2005,http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/articles/050214/14john.htm
[xi] C. Murray, “The Inequality Taboo,” Commentary, September 2005, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/production/files/murray0905.html
[xii] National Association of Scholars, “Research: Who Chooses Science and Why?” Science Insights, 6, No 4 (2001), http://www.nas.org/publications/sci_newslist/6_4/b_careers.htm
[xiii] S. Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Viking, 2002), pp. 344-345.
[xiv] A. Gallagher & J. Kaufman, Gender Differences in Mathematics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
AWM Petition Text
Dear President Bush and Secretary of Education Spellings,
While we are pleased that you recognize the importance of strengthening mathematics education, and have shown this by appointing a National Mathematics Advisory Panel, we unfortunately must register our objection to the inclusion of Dr. Camilla Benbow on the panel.
Dr. Benbow is best known for the hypothesis that there are intrinsic gender differences in favor of males at the highest level of mathematical performance. There is substantial evidence against this highly controversial hypothesis, and significant criticism of the methodology of Dr. Benbow’s work in this area.
It would be unfortunate if the work of the Panel were to be disregarded because of an actual or perceived bias against women. We urge the removal of Dr. Benbow from the panel.
The president of the United States has created a National Mathematics Advisory Panel. According to the Executive Order, the Panel is to “foster greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students.” More information about the panel, its charge, and its members is available at:http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html.
The Vice-chair of the Panel is Camilla Benbow, who is best known for the hypothesis that there are intrinsic gender differences in favor of males at the highest level of mathematical performance. Please see below for evidence against this hypothesis and for criticisms of Dr. Benbow’s work.
1980, 1983, 1988 Work
In 1980, Camilla Benbow and Julian Stanley published an article in Science reporting large gender differences in “mathematical reasoning ability.”(1) Their evidence was scores on the SAT taken by seventh graders as part of a talent search for a program at Johns Hopkins University. In their conclusion Benbow and Stanley explicitly favored (their word) “the hypothesis that sex differences in achievement in and attitude towards mathematics result from superior male mathematical ability . . . [which] is probably an expression of a combination of both endogenous and exogenous variables.”(1)
In 1983, Benbow and Stanley reported that the male to female ratio of Hopkins talent search participants with scores over 700 was 13 to 1.(2)
In 1988, Benbow reported, “the ratio is 12.9 to 1 for the 278 cases reported in Benbow and Stanley (1983b). When in November 1983 SMPY had temporarily completed its national search . . . the ratio remained around 12 to 1.” On page 219, she states, “From 1980, the [talent search] samples, have indeed been selected by the same criteria. During this time period there is no evidence for a decrease [in sex difference], rather the opposite.” She concluded, “it is clear after the testing of several hundred thousand intellectually talented 12- to 13-year-old students nationwide over a 15-year period that there are consistent [emphasis added] sex differences favoring males in mathematical reasoning ability (or more specifically in SAT-M scores). These differences are pronounced at the highest levels of that ability.”(3)
The male to female ratio for students scoring over 700 during the 15-year period was not given explicitly. However, some have interpreted this article as stating that the ratio has remained unchanged for fifteen years.(4),(5)
Critiques of Methodology Used in 1980s Work
Benbow’s 14-page article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences is followed by 34 pages of commentary, mainly from psychologists, that includes critiques of methodology.(6) Eccles and Jacobs discuss Benbow and Stanley’s assumptions about students’ formal mathematical experiences in light of empirical studies of SAT performance and course taking. (7)Ruskai notes also that the Hopkins Center practice of sending students brochures stating that boys outperform girls on the mathematics SAT could bias results.(8)
New Findings Since 1983: Changes in Talent Search Ratios and Other Measures
Researchers at the Hopkins Center reported that between 1984 and 1991 the average for this ratio was 5.7 to 1.(9) The Hopkins Center brochures for 1988 and 1989 reported ratios of 4 to 1 and 8 to 1 respectively.(4) In 1997, Julian Stanley wrote that the ratio was 4 to 1.(10) In 2005, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported this ratio was 2.8 to 1.(11)
The Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) is a talent search that follows the Hopkins model. TIP was established in 1980. Its regional talent search covers sixteen states in the southeastern, midwestern, and southwestern United States. TIP talent search ratios are shown in the table below. The TIP researchers wrote in 1994, “These findings clearly indicate that the gender gap in mathematical ability is markedly smaller than the data from Benbow’s recent articles would suggest.”(12)
The TIP findings and those of the Hopkins talent search are summarized below.
Duke Talent Search
Goldstein & Stocking, 1994, p. 192
Johns Hopkins Talent Search
Benbow, 1988 as interpreted by Halpern et al., 2005
Over 15 years
“unchanged for over 15 years”
Benbow, 1988 as interpreted by Ruskai, 1991
Hopkins Center brochure 1988
Hopkins Center brochure 1989
Brody, Barnett, & Mills, 1994, p. 206
citing Benbow & Stanley, 1983
Brody, Barnett, & Mills, 1994, p. 206
Chronicle of Higher Education, 2005
The decline in talent search ratios is consistent with changes in other measures: 48% of the undergraduate mathematics degrees in the U.S. now go to women, up from 40% in the 1970s; (13) about one third of the PhDs in mathematics going to U.S. citizens go to women (this percentage has more than doubled since the 1970s); (14) women have even begun to make inroads into the rarified air of the prestigious Putman competition: for decades no woman placed in the top fifteen, but in 2004 there were four women in this exceptional group. (15)
Recent Talent Search Ratios Not Cited By Benbow and Colleagues
In 1992, Lubinski and Benbow gave the 13 to 1 ratio. Part of an endnote says that “In American samples, these ratios have been fluctuating over the past decade at least partly as a function of increasing numbers of Asian students entering talent searches. For example, in Asian samples, the proportion of males/females with SAT-M = 700 is 4/1 (this ratio has also been observed in China); in Caucasian samples, the ratio is closer to 16/1.”(16)
In 2000, although Stanley had stated the ratio was 4 to 1 three years earlier,(8) Benbow et al. cited the 1983 ratio of 13 to 1 without mention of later changes.(17)
Recent Talent Search Ratios Not Cited By Psychologists
Psychologists and others have used the 13 to 1 ratio. In his 1998 book, Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences, the psychologist David Geary wrote, “The consequences of the sex differences in intrasexual variability are more dramatic for mathematics than for reading and are most extreme in samples of highly gifted people” and gave the 13 to 1 ratio without discussion of any fluctuations. (18) (Geary is a member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.)
In 2002, psychologist Steven Pinker’s 2002 prize-winning book,(19) The Blank Slate, also gave the 13 to 1 ratio–again, without discussion of later changes.(20) Pinker wrote, “At the right tail, one finds that in a sample of talented students who score above 700 (out of 800) on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Assessment Test, boys outnumber girls by thirteen to one, even though the scores of boys and girls are similar within the bulk of the curve.” Pinker cites Lubinski and Benbow’s 1992 article but apparently did not read the endnote that accompanied the 13 to 1 ratio.
Also in 2002, psychologist Doreen Kimura wrote in Scientific American, “Benbow and her colleagues have reported consistent [emphasis added] sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability that favor males. In mathematically talented youth, the differences were especially sharp at the upper end of the distribution, where males vastly outnumbered females. The same has been found for the Putnam competition, a very demanding mathematics examination. Benbow argues that these differences are not readily explained by socialization.”(21) (Two years after Kimura’s article was published, as noted previously, four women were among the top fifteen Putnam competitors.)
Recent Talent Search Ratios Not Cited in National Media
In 2005, during discussion of the remarks of Lawrence Summers, the 13 to 1 ratio, as well as Benbow’s subsequent work, were cited in the national media, e.g., U.S. News and World Report(22) and Commentary. (23) The Harvard Crimson said, “Summers said the evidence for his speculative hypothesis that biological differences may partially account for this gender gap comes instead from scholars cited in Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker’s bestselling 2002 book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.”(24)
3. C. P. Benbow, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Reasoning Ability Intellectually Talented Preadolescents: Their Nature, Effects, and Possible Causes,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11 (1988): 169-232,http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/BBSBenbow.pdf . See pp. 172, 182.
4. D. Halpern, J. Wai, and A. Saw, “A Psychobiosocial Model: Why Females Are Sometimes Greater Than and Sometimes Less Than Males in Math Achievement,” in Gender Differences in Mathematics: An Integrative Psychological Approach, ed. A. M. Gallagher and J. C. Kaufman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 66. Halpern et al. write that the ratio is 17:1, probably a typographical error and 13 is meant.
5. M. B. Ruskai, “Guest Comment: Are There Innate Cognitive Gender Differences? Some Comments on the Evidence in Response to a Letter from M. Levin,” American Journal of Physics, 59, no. 1 (1991): 11-14,http://www.aps.org/educ/cswp/gender.pdf. See p. 11.
7. J. Eccles and J. Jacobs, “Social Forces Shape Math Attitudes and Performance,” Signs, 11, no. 2 (1986): 367-380.
8. M. B. Ruskai, “Guest Comment: Are There Innate Cognitive Gender Differences? Some Comments on the Evidence in Response to a Letter from M. Levin,” American Journal of Physics, 59, no. 1 (1991): 11-14,http://www.aps.org/educ/cswp/gender.pdf.
9. L. E. Brody, L. B. Barnett, and C. J. Mills, “Gender Differences Among Talented Adolescents: Research Studies by SMPY and CTY at Johns Hopkins,” in Competence and Responsibility: The Third European Conference of the European Council for High Ability, ed. K. A. Heller and E. A. Hany (Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber, 1994).
12. D. Goldstein and V. Stocking, “TIP Studies of Gender Differences in Talented Adolescents,” in Competence and Responsibility: The Third European Conference of the European Council for High Ability, ed. K. A. Heller and E. A. Hany (Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber, 1994).
13. National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (Vol. 1, NSB 04-1; Vol. 2, NSB 04-1A), (Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation). http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/
16. Lubinski and Benbow, “Gender Differences in Abilities and Preferences Among the Gifted: Implications for the Math-Science Pipeline,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1(1992): 61-66,http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/CurrentDirections.pdf
17. C. P. Benbow, D. Lubinski, D. Shea, and H. Eftekhari-Sanjani, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability at Age 13: Their Status 20 Years Later,” Psychological Scientist, 11, no. 6 (2000): 474-487, p. 474,http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/SexDiffs.pdf
18. D. Geary, Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association), pp. 314-315 cites Benbow, 1988, Benbow & Stanley, 1980; Stanley, 1993.
20. S. Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Viking, 2002), pp. 344-345. The citations for this statement are: Hedges and Nowell, “Sex Differences in Mental Test Scores, Variability, and Numbers of High-scoring Individuals,” Science, 269 (1995): 41-45; Lubinski and Benbow, “Gender Differences in Abilities and Preferences Among the Gifted: Implications for the Math-Science Pipeline,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1(1992): 61-66, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/CurrentDirections.pdf.)
…There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very substantial disparities that this conference’s papers document and have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call the-I’ll explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I think they are-the first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described…
Regarding Lawrence H. Summers’s remarks on the underrepresentation of women in mathematics and science, the real news is that despite cultural barriers, women are entering these fields in greater and greater numbers.
About a third of all United States citizens who have received Ph.D.’s in mathematics recently are women. About half of all undergraduate mathematics degrees in the United States go to women.
Yes, there is still a shortage of women on the mathematics and sciences faculties of many American universities, including Harvard. So universities should hire more of these excellent women and then treat them as if they value them.
We call on Lawrence Summers, as well as the leaders of all educational institutions, to take positive action to encourage the influx of women and minorities into mathematics, science and engineering.
Carolyn Gordon Hanover, N.H., Jan. 22, 2005
The writer, a professor of mathematics at Dartmouth College, is president of the Association for Women in Mathematics.
AWM President’s Response Letter (unpublished) to the Washington Post:
December 11, 2008
The Washington Post ran Ruth Marcus’s December 3 syndicated column as “Was Larry Summers Right About Intrinsic Aptitude?” Marcus ended her column “Summers probably had a legitimate point.” But, just what was this “legitimate point”? Are there systematic gender differences as Summers claimed?
In her column, Marcus cited a study which found more white American boys than girls had scores in the 99th percentile of state mathematics tests. In the very same study the situation was reversed for Asian Americans.
Marcus cited another study that did not find systematic differences. “In all but three countries — Britain, Thailand and Iceland — more boys than girls scored in the 99th percentile in math.”
A study published in the November Notices of the American Mathematical Society also documented a lack of systematic gender differences in mathematical ability. Girls as well as boys with exceptional talent for mathematics are frequently identified and nurtured in some countries where this ability is highly valued. In the United States, children of immigrants from these countries are much more likely to be identified as possessing extraordinary mathematical ability.
Was Summers right about systematic gender differences in intrinsic aptitude? These studies give no indication that he was.
Cathy Kessel, President, Association for Women in Mathematics
The recent study A National Analysis of Diversity
in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities
by Donna J. Nelson and Diana C. Rogers has been widely cited by the National Organization
for Women (NOW) and in Congressional testimony, . From fifty departments in each of
fourteen fields of science and engineering, including
mathematics, the authors obtained demographic
data (gender, race/ethnicity) of the tenured
and tenure-track faculty at each rank. As the first
unified study of such demographic data for all
fourteen fields, the study draws attention to the significant
underrepresentation of women and minorities
(Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans).
In mathematics the percentage of women in the
rank of full professor, associate professor, and assistant
professor in the departments surveyed was
4.6%, 13.2%, and 19.6% respectively. The comparison
of assistant professors (19.6% female in 2002)
with recent Ph.D. recipients (27.2% female over the
period 1993–2002) reveals a pattern of attrition
which persists across many of the disciplines surveyed.
The survey points out that when minority
status is also taken into account, the picture is
even more dismal: minority women are practically
invisible in all ranks of the faculty at the institutions
In response to a 2001 Publication of Nintendo Ad in Girls’ Life magazine, the AWM President sent the following letter to the Nintendo Vice President:
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001
Subject: An ad for Nintendo
From: “Martin Magid”
Dear Professor Lenhart:
I am writing to you because you are President of AWM (of which I am a member.) My ten year old daughter subscribes to the magazine Girl’s Life.
When it arrived today she showed me an ad, on page 31, for Mario Party 3, by Nintendo. The ad appears to be a page from a year book. There are 10 complete pictures and two partial pictures. Three of the 10 full pictures are girls. Two of the girls are cute; their captions read “JV Cheerleading, French Club” and “Basketball, Drama Club”. The third girl is not attractive; her caption reads “Band, Math Club”.
This is, to me, every bit as bad as what Mattel had Barbie saying several years ago. I know that AWM was involved in trying to get Mattel to change Barbie’s comments and I would like to pressure Nintendo to change the ad. Can you tell me how I might go about doing this?
Thanks for your help.
Department of Mathematics
Wellesley MA, 02481
Passed January 4, 1995 by the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics
Whereas the voters of the State of California passed Proposition 187 in November 1994, removing access of undocumented aliens to many social services, including public education.
Whereas this Proposition directs in particular that teachers in the state report to the Immigration and Naturalization Service the names of any students who may be undocumented, and many California teachers at all levels have declared their willingness to risk imprisonment by defying this requirement.
Whereas this proposition encourages discriminatory and divisive behavior toward Hispanics and Asians, thereby creating a hostile environment for all and placing California teachers in a moral quandary.
Whereas the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) has a deep commitment to providing access to mathematics education to all.
Therefore, be it resolved that AWM opposes the denial of basic benefits such as education and health services to persons on the basis of immigration status.
Be it further resolved that, should California enforce the provisions of Proposition 187, AWM will urge the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and other mathematical societies not to schedule any meetings within the state during this enforcement.
The resolution was proposed by the AMS Committee on the Profession and presented to the AMS Council. The Council approved a modified form of the resolution. The Young Mathematicians Network asked the AWM Executive Committee also to support the resolution. We approved it in the same form as the AMS Council.
Supportive Practices and Ethics in the Employment of Young Mathematicians
1. For several years now, there have been substantially fewer Ph.D.-level positions available in mathematics than qualified applicants. (See, e.g., the report of the AMS Task Force on Employment reviewed in the AMS Notices, October 1992, pp. 820-821, and the 1993 survey of new doctorates, AMS Notices, November 1993, p. 1164). The disparity between supply and demand has caused severe difficulties for some recent Ph.D.’s. There is no indication that the situation will ease significantly in the near future.
It is incumbent on Mathematics departments to make all their potential Ph.D.’s aware of the realities of the job market and to encourage them to prepare for a broad range of jobs in the mathematical sciences.
2. The early post-Ph.D. years are crucial in career development. Departments have a responsibility to promote such development. Employment practices should conform to this principle.
The systematic use of one-year appointments to fill regular teaching positions has the potential for exploitation of those holding such positions. Young mathematicians in one-year terminal positions with full teaching loads must, in addition to carrying out their duties and trying to establish their own scholarly program, begin again searching for a job almost immediately after settling in – a concentration of pressures which will almost certainly have adverse effects on professional growth and morale.
While some one-year positions are professionally beneficial, many others can be rationalized by institutions only on grounds of fiscal expediency or charity.
Employers should strenuously seek means to devise better situations for recent Ph.D.’s. Whenever possible, positions should be offered for at least two years.
3. Although many institutions are under severe financial pressure, this should not be used as an excuse for exploitation. In particular, the practice of hiring unemployed Ph.D.’s by the course, without integrating them into the scholarly life of the department, is seriously detrimental to the individuals and the profession.
The systematic hiring of unemployed Ph.D.’s part-time at substandard salaries is reprehensible and exploitative. It demeans the profession. Such practice undermines educational quality.
Note: AWM recognizes the need for family leave and family-friendly policies. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with leave. We applaud institutions who go beyond the letter of the law.
Further Resources: Designing and Implementing Family-Friendly Policies in Higher Education, a study by Gilia C. Smith and Jean A. Waltman published by the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan.
The following is provided for archival purposes: AWM FAMILY LEAVE PRINCIPLES
prepared by Anita Solow, Grinnell College
Several years ago, Rhonda Hughes created an AWM Task Force on Maternity Leave to examine what was happening to women in academe when they decided to have children. The first thing that we did was to collect both official policies and personal stories. What we discovered was that most schools had no policy and that women were largely relying on luck, good timing, and the generosity of their colleagues. One large problem was that, for many women, the only recourse they had was to beg their co-workers to cover their classes. This led to a great deal of pressure for women to return to the classroom shortly after the birth.
AWM recognizes the need for parental leave. We need to make the workplace more responsive to the needs of the employees. And, as we all know, the pre-tenure years strongly overlap with child-bearing years. What follows is a list of principles that AWM supports. Feel free to use this list at your institution as a basis for developing parental leave guidelines.
Leave with pay
Duration: a minimum of six weeks, up to one term or semester
Cause: birth or adoption of child
Eligibility: parent with child responsibility. Must be a full-time faculty member with at least one year of service.
Process: It is the responsibility of the administration to fund leave replacements for the faculty on parental leave.
Tenure clock: can be stopped for up to one year at the request of the faculty member on parental leave.
Leave without pay
Duration: up to one year
Cause: care of sick child or parent
Eligibility: faculty member with responsibility for care. Must be a full-time faculty member with at least one year of service.
Process: It is the responsibility of the administration to fund leave replacements for the faculty on parental leave.
Tenure clock: should be handled the same way as for any faculty member on a leave without pay.
Science editorial “Mathematics and Sex” by AWM founding presidents Alice T. Shafer and Mary W. Gray
AWM Statement in March/April 1981 AWM Newsletter (President’s Report)
A press conference was organized by the AMS to discuss the articles in Science(December 12) on the Stanley-Benbow study. We issued a statement which said “The Association for Women in Mathematics is outraged by the irresponsible coverage in the December 12 issue of Science of a study of dubious validity on sex differences in mathematical ability. We strongly support the views of the Joint Committee on Women in Mathematics as expressed in an editorial to appear in the January 16 issue of Science.” This has been communicated to the Editors of the Notices of the AMS. Mary Gray and Alice Schafer were at the press conference representing the AMS-MAA-SIAM Joint Committee on Women. Their editorial (referred to in our statement) has now appeared in Science.
COMMENTARY ON WOMEN IN MATH
Are boys better at math than girls? Findings recently reported by Johns Hopkins researchers (Benbow and Stanley) would seem to indicate that this traditional view is, indeed, correct. However, the author of the following article cautions us in accepting this conclusion by pointing out some difficulties with the experimental design and assumptions inherent in the research. Reprinted with the permission of the author, Elizabeth K. Stage
of University of California at Berkeley. Reprinted here from On Campus with Women, published by the Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, 1818 R St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009.
The recent report in Science magazine on sex differences in mathematical ability (1) and the associated news story (2) have received much attention in the popular media (3) and have caused considerable concern among mathematicians and educators. The article reports on a study which has taken place over the past eight years at Johns Hopkins University which has been conducting talent searches by administering the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to seventh and eighth graders. A large difference was observed in each of the six talent searches between the performance of the males and the females on the mathematical portion of the SAT (SAT-M) while no such difference was observed between males and females on the verbal portion (SAT-V). Since “boys and girls have presumably had essentially the same amount of formal training in mathematics,” through the seventh grade, the researchers concluded that, “It is therefore obvious
that differential course-taking in mathematics cannot alone explain the sex differences [they] observed in mathematical reasoning ability, although other environmental explanations have not been ruled out.” (l, p. 1263)
There are two problems with this inference, one in the assumption of equivalent instruction and the other in the portrayal of the differential course-taking argument which they purport to test. The difficulty with the assumption that there has been no essential difference in the formal training in mathematics is that it ignores a wealth of evidence on the differential treatment of boys and girls in elementary school, including the findings that girls receive less praise for correct answers than boys do (4), praise received by girls occurs randomly while boys are praised for participation in academic activities (5) and teachers sex-stereotype academic fields, making more academic contacts with girls in reading and with boys in math (6). From these findings, one would expect males to be participating at a higher level in school, particularly in
mathematics. The limitation of Benbow and Stanley’s portrayal of the differential course-taking argument is that Fennema and Sherman, whose work is cited as an example of that argument, have never contended that differential course taking alone explained the performance differences between males and females in mathematics. The cited article,
in which only students with the same math backgrounds are compared says, “The only high school with two significant sex-related differences in cognitive factors also showed the highest number of sex-related differences in affective factors, six out of eight. The very fact of variation from school to school in the occurrence of sex-related differences
on cognitive factors makes it less likely that the difference observed can be attributed to sex per se.” (7, p. 66) These researchers concluded their subsequent article, in which they examined students in middle schools as well, with the following statement: “The strong conclusion reached by the authors after two years of intensive study of sex-related difference in mathematics achievement of students in grades 6-12 is that when relevant factors are controlled, sex-related differences in favor of males do not appear often, and when they do, they are not large. When relevant variables were
controlled, sex-related mathematics and other cognitive differences were few and of slight extent.” (8, p. 201)
Benbow and Stanley admit that a possible criticism of their results is “that only selected mathematically able, highly motivated students were tested. Are the SMPY results indicative of the general population?” (l. p. 1264) They explain that lowering of the criteria of eligibility for the searches did not change the number of high scoring individuals. That fact does not, by itself, make the results representative of the general population. As they point out in the following paragraph, the question remains, “To what extent do girls with high mathematical ability opt out of the SMPY talent searches?” Unless and until they survey the pool of potential participants to find out who among them decides to participate and who declines, they cannot rule out the possibility that the most able females are deliberately choosing not to participate
because they realize that the social consequences of such an activity will be negative (9).
A further shortcoming of the paper is highlighted in this sentence, “Our results suggest that these environmental influences are more significant for achievement in mathematics than for mathematical aptitude.” (1, p. 1264) While the College Board encourages a distinction between achievement and aptitude in its testing program and the SAT is intended to test aptitude rather than achievement, it is not clear that the SAT is the most appropriate measure of aptitude or that seventh graders taking a test intended for high school students is the most appropriate sample. Further, text experts
are questioning the distinction between aptitude and achievement tests, estimating as much as 60-75% overlap between the two constructs (lO, p. 285) In fact, achievement and aptitude tests sometimes correlate as highly as their reliabilities, which set a maximum on the possible correlation (ll, p. 401).
Finally, Benhow and Stanley favor the hypothesis that “sex differences in achievement and attitude toward mathematics result from superior mathematical ability, which may in turn be related to greater male ability in spatial tasks.” They did not measure spatial ability themselves, but relied upon two sources. One of these (12) relies on studies now twenty or more years old, the other has been superseded by work that clearly voices objections to the “male superiority” hypothesis (13). Without a measure of spatial ability and with such questionable references, it is hard to see the basis for the spatial ability claim.
There are several reasons, then, for being cautious in interpreting the recent Science article. The authors make an unwarranted assumption of equivalent treatment of males and females in elementary school; they imply that disagreement with them is equivalent to agreement with a socialization-only hypothesis; they generalize from an unusual sample; they use an unusual aptitude measure for a seventh grade sample; they draw conclusions about spatial ability without having tested it. The data presented are limited to the observation that, on the average, males who responded to a talent search
outscored females who responded to a talent search on the mathematical section of a test designed to predict high school students’ college performance. Even if the result could be generalized, the observation obscures the substantial overlap of the distributions of scores on the test. Furthermore, few students, male or female, reach their potential in mathematical achievement. Research efforts should be directed at discovering ways to enhance the development of all students’ mathematical reasoning ability and achievement.
I. Benbow, C. P. and Stanley, J. C. Sex differences in mathematical ability: Fact or artifact? Science 210:1262-1264, Ig80.
2. l(olata, G. B. Math and sex: Are girls born with less ability? Science 210:1234-1235, 1980.
3. The gender factor in math. Time, I16(24):57, 1980; Williams, D.A. and King, P. Do males have a math gene? Newsweek 46(24):73, 1980.
4. Brophy, J.E. and Good, T.L. Teachers’ communication of differential expectations for children’s classroom performance: Some behavioral data. Journal of Educational Psychology 61(5):365-374, Ig70.
5. Delefes, P. and Jackson, B. Teacher-pupil interaction as a function of location in the classroom. Psychology in the Schools 9(2):I19-123, 1972.
6. Leinhardt, B., Seewald, A.M., and Engel, M. Learning what’s taught: Sex differences in instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology 714(4):432-439, 1979.
7. Fennema, E. and Sherman, j. Sex-related differences in mathematics achievement, spatial visualization, and affective factors. American Educational Research Journal 14:51-71, 1977. J
8. Fennema, E. and Sherman, J. Sex-related differences in mathematics achievement and related factors: A further study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 9(3); 188-203, 1978.
9. Lockheed, M.E. Female motive to avoid success: A psychological barrier or a response to deviancy? Sex Roles 1:41-50, 1975.
lO. Cronbach, L.j. Essentials of Psychological Testin 9 (Third Edition) NY:Harper and Row, 1970.
I1. Ahastasi, A. Psychological Testing (Fourth Edition). NY:Macmillan 1976.
12. Smith, I.M. Spatial Ability. London:University of London Press, 1964.
13. Sherman, J. Sex Related Cognitive Differences. Springfield, Illinois:1978.
October 2, 1980
Enclosed is some information about the recent harsh sentencing in the Soviet Union of mathematician
and computer scientist Tatyana Velikanova. Also enclosed is a copy of a letter from
the Association for Women in Mathematics to Professor A.P. Alexandrov, President of the Soviet
Academy of Sciences, requesting his and the Academy’s assistance in this matter.
In order to protect her life and the lives of other such scientists in the Soviet Union who speak out
for human rights, it is most important for the Soviet authorities to know that scientists in the West are
deeply concerned by, and are closely following, these situations. We are requesting you to circulate
these materials, including the supporting statement for signatures, amongst your colleagues. Please
feel free to make extra copies. It would be helpful for signatures to include the individual’s position,
institutional affiliation and professional societies (e.g. AMS, AWM, ACM, National Academy of
Some of you may wish to write your own letters.
Please return the supporting statement with signatures (or copies of letters sent) to:
The Association for Women in Mathematics
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02181
Thank you for your assistance.
Professor Lenore Blum
Chair, Human Rights Committee
Association for Women in Mathematics
Letter from AWM President to President of Academy of Science, USSR in May/June 1981 AWM Newsletter, pp. 3-5
by Lenore Blum, Chair, AWM Human Rights Committee
The Association for Women in Mathematics is mailing letters this month to hundreds
of scientists in the USSR and the West requesting their assistance in securing the freedom
of Soviet mathematician and human rights advocate Tatyana Velikanova.
Tatyana Velikanova, mother of three and grandmother of three, was sentenced to
four years in labor camp and five years in internal exile last summer immediately after
the Moscow Olympics. She is now in the Mordovian “strict regime” labor camp for
“especially dangerous state criminals” where she is allowed only one private visit each
Velikanova is one of the earliest and most respected leaders of the Human Rights
movement in the Soviet Union. She was accused of editing and disseminating the “Chronicle
of Current Events,” the major samizdat news publication of the Human Rights movement.
Andrei Sakharov, in his “Letter from Exile” (in The New York Times Magazine, June 8,
1980) described Velikanova as “showing no interest in fame, glory or personal gain,
sacrificing much in her personal life, … always at the center of the battle, committing
herself to the fate of hundreds of victims of injustice.”
Tatyana Velikanova is an honorary member of the Association for Women in Mathematics,
the major international professional association for women mathematicians. After
graduating in mathematics from Moscow State University in 1954, Velikanova taught in a
rural area for several years, and then worked as a computer scientist for 21 years (12
for the Soviet Academy of Sciences). She is believed to be among the first women entering
the field of computer science in the USSR.
Over 600 scientists from the U.S. and Canada have already signed letters supporting
the AWM request to the Soviet Academy of Sciences for their help in overturni.)g
Velikanova’s harsh sentence. A similar outpouring of support has been initiated in
Europe. Amnesty International has adopted Velikanova as a Prisoner of Conscience.
On March 25, Lenore Blum spoke with Dr. Makarov, attach~ for Science and Technology
of the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C., and met with his assistant Mr. Skripko. She
expressed the AWM’s deep concern for Velikanova’s situation, and asked for their
assistance in gaining her freedom. Blum was assured that this message would be communicated
to their superiors.
See the full article for excerpts from letter from Velikanova’s children
We include the latest version of the AWM letter of support. We ask you again to have this letter or a Xerox signed by you and your colleagues. Please return the letter (or copies of letters sent) to AWM, Women’s Research Center, Wellesley College, 828 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02181.
Academician A. P. Alexandrov, President
Academy of Science of the USSR
14 Leninsky Prospekt
Moscow B-71, RSFSR, U.S.S.R.
Dear Professor Alexandrov,
We, the undersigned scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists are gravely concerned to hear of the harsh sentencing of our colleague Tatyana Velikanova. We support the letter from the Association for Women in Mathematics requesting the assistance of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in overturning this sentence.