Education: Math Mystique: Fear of Figuring

Sheila Tobias, associate provost of Wesleyan University, is a feminist with an interesting theory about why women fail to get certain kinds of jobs. Says she: "I had been deeply concerned with occupational segregation, the tracking of women into 'soft' fields that were considered appropriate for them. When I listened to adult women discussing going back to work, they kept talking about 'working with people.' What they were all avoiding, I realized, was anything based on mathematics. It just went click." A number of studies by educators have substantiated what Tobias has named "math anxiety." Among the findings:

> Sociologist Lucy Sells,...

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