A new survey by a numeracy campaign about basic math skills in British adults has been released, and it reports that one in three women have trouble adding sums mentally, while only 18% of men do. The results of the poll help to underscore the obnoxiousness of the London newspaper the Daily Mail: while the BBC report on the survey attributes the demographic gender split to women's lack of "confidence" in their own quantitative abilities, the Daily Mail takes the opportunity to imply that women are stupid and only need math skills for things like buying shoes. "34 per cent [of women]- said she had trouble adding up prices in her head while out shopping," the paper laments.
Finally, more than 50% of women "asked maths questions by their children or family said they struggled to answer them," reports the BBC. If the vintage calculator ad above is any indication — "If you can't remember numbers, Rapidman can!" displayed with a picture of a smiling, groceries clad couple — it's not that the average woman is worse at math than the average man, but that, as the BBC implies, she's just less confident in her abilities. (Age also was a major factor in the poll, as men and women over 55 were the most confident in their mathematical abilities, while 25 to 34-year-olds were the least sure of themselves.) Studies have shown that in the bell curve of mathematical ability, most women end up clustered around the middle, while men more often fall on the high and low ends of the ability spectrum, and in American schools, girls and boys are now equal in their math courses. Once again we say to the Daily Mail: sod off. Your proclamations about women's frivolousness are only discouraging their latent math skills. Danica McKellar, Winne Cooper from the Wonder Years and the co-author of a scientific paper about a theorem in mathematical physics is our new math deity.