In pursuit of equality, feminists ponder the meaning of the gender discrepancy in participation in trades and professions involving the mastery and use of the higher mathematics. Calculus is sexy because it is a tell. Whether one speaks of animals, plants or humanity, sex is that set of attributes that defines the individual plant, animal or human for the purpose of procreation. These differential sex attributes are present in one gender but not in the other, thus they are a tell, telling us which is which.
Mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, physics, etc. are called the hard sciences for a reason. They are exact; they are complex; they are hard to learn; they are hard to remember, they are hard to master and apply. They are just plain hard. To learn all of these is very much like climbing a path up an ever steepening hill. It takes mental focus, practice, hard work, dedication, strong memory, but mostly, motivation to climb that hill.
A boy and a girl, starting as equals, pursue the very same course of instruction. Over time the course becomes increasingly arduous for both. At the very same time, they are in the process of discovering, er, each other. About the seventh grade, the other tells are beginning to tell. They become self-conscious as to where they stand in the social status hierarchy both in terms of economics and beauty. In nature, sex is competitive and there are both winners and losers, and the competition is fierce. While sex is not the only emotion or motive of human behavior, in youth it is predominant. A pubescent female normally endowed becomes attractive to normal males. If that is not the case she pursues artificial enhancements. Such cosmetic enhancements are a multi-billion dollar industry. When young girls and women choose to change their hair color in order to become more attractive the overriding tendency is to lighten, not darken, the hair. By a popular consensus blondes are generally esteemed to be more attractive than brunettes. This gives rise to the myth of the dumb blonde. Extraordinarily beautiful young women tend to glide up the social pyramid or, as in entering a grocery store with automatic doors, society’s doors are thrown open for them almost as if by magic. It matters not to them whether the doors are activated pneumatically, hydraulically or electromagnetically, just so long as they open. This is scientific knowledge they just don’t need to know. While boys and men are also judged and ranked by their outward appearance, beauty is, in their case, not the predominant criteria. In the long run, that would be money. For men, the knowledge of calculus opens doors of career opportunity both immediately and in the future that would otherwise be inaccessible. While the same can be said for women, a successful career in and of itself is not the primary goal of a man, it is but a stepping stone to something else. Learning calculus is an arduous task, but why take on a hard task when you already know there’s an easier way? Shaving your legs, painting your lips and dying your hair is altogether far simpler than learning calculus. And yes, men have tried it, which begs the question: How’s that working out for you?
Electricity follows the path of least resistance. So do most people.
A controversial study circulating in the 1970’s alleged to show an inverse correlation between bust size and I.Q. It seems the larger a woman’s bust, the lower her I.Q.. But since I.Q. testing is a measure of one’s learned ability to recognize and manipulate cultural symbols (like calculus), if you don’t need it, you’re not motivated to learn it.
Even if a statistical analysis shows clearly that blondes are dumber at calculus than brunettes, that does not prove that they are mentally deficient or in any way inferior. Likewise making a comparison of males versus females. Without sex factored in (on both sides of the human equation) the numbers prove nothing.
Whether couched in terms of gaining social status, finding a superior mate, or in the very plainest language: getting laid, knowing calculus does nothing to enhance a woman’s prospects. For men on the other hand, in the long run it most certainly does. Six inches of good cleavage on an attractive, young, blonde woman is the equivalent of a man earning a PhD. Somehow the two manage to get together – even without a pencil.
Statistically, if you do well in calculus, you’re probably a male; but if you do poorly you’re probably a female. Calculus is sexy only because it forms a line of demarcation between males and females, a line that defines just who we really are.
I never said women can’t do the calculus. I’m only asking: “Why would they bother?”