– Two US teams won the International Mathematical Olympics each year in 2015 and 2016. The big problem is (though not unusual), in both the six-member teams there were no girls at all. Even if much research has shown that girls can succeed as well as boys in math, many female students still believe that they are not made for it and that the discipline is not for them. This persistent and harmful stereotype is one of the main reasons why girls are less inclined to pursue math related careers and still less to participate in competitions. Actually, only a quarter of the US workforce in math and computer-science fields are women.
– In 2009, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge sought to know why a smaller number of girls than boys reach the top level of math contests. To better understand this difference, the researchers focused on high-achievers and found that, indeed, there is a gender gap all around the world in this domain. They were, however, unable to explain for sure the reason behind this situation, likely due to several factors, but peer pressure seems to play an important role in dissuading girls to engage in activities that could lead them to become great achievers or superstars in mathematics.
More than 150 girls from around the world competed in the 2017 European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad in Zurich, Switzerland (Evelyn Merkli/European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad/Flickr)