– Even if Allison Schrager has a PhD in economics, she still doesn’t consider herself a “math person.” In an uplifting way, she recounts when she was in elementary school, her mother had a discussion with her third-grade teacher about Allison’s low math performance. The teacher responded that there was no need to worry about the girl’s poor math scores because this subject was simply not her thing. This episode was the beginning of a “long, tortured relationship with mathematics.”

– Despite this discouraging debut, a few years later Schrager resumed an informal math education and completed a quantitative PhD program featuring a very difficult math problem. Today, she is even paid for solving hard math. According to Diane Alpern, dean at Claremont Mackenna and an expert on intelligence, majority of both male and female brains are equally able to be successful in math. While girls seem to have stronger verbal and memory skills, boys seem to have better visuospatial skills. Clancy Blair, a developmental psychologist at New York University, says that “Gender differences in math ability are largely social and cultural.”



Image: Just keep at it / AP Photo – Alexander F. Yuan