There was an article in yesterday’s New York Times with the headline Experts: Some Women Perform Well in Math. When Zeba told me about it over dinner last night, we all collapsed in laughter: both Zeba and I are women who base our careers on performing well in math (probably Zeba more than me, but I’d like to think I’m better than average).
Of course, the article isn’t a finding about women actually being competent mathematicians; we already know that that is the case, and there are plenty of stellar examples that demonstrate this. The article is about expectation and how it affects performance, which is something that’s likely under-rated: tell someone often enough that they can’t do something (especially when they’re not sure that they can) and you have a recipe for failure.
I like to think that the journalist who wrote the headline wanted to see what they could get past the editorial committee. They certainly made my day.