When I was in grade school I dreaded arithmetic drills.
I didn’t have any idea how to visualize progressions of sixes, say, or how to think about four times eighty-seven. Memorization drills were on the wane but nothing much was taking their place.
“Hang on,” my mathematically minded mother — who was doing graduate work in Projective Geometry in night school — encouraged me,
“You’ll LIKE algebra.”
And she was really really really right. I blossomed at the sight of my first “x.” Then had no trouble proving things in geometry and put together enough ideas to sail through most of Algebra II/Trig. And then I stopped because I’d already done more than what half the girls did in high school back then.)
Now back in 1964 when I would have taken, as an eighth grader, the entrance exams for the elite high school programs in what came to be called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), those programs were closed to girls and had been since the dawn of time. I never rejected the idea of learning higher mathematics because I was a girl. Rather, I was utterly ignored with a rejection so entrenched that nobody recognized it as dismissal and rejection. It was the way things were.
Most women of my generation are still bound by a deeply buried blindness to the thoughtless knee jerk rejection we receive from, then dole out in turn on our sisters; particularly and especially any sisters who exhibit talents and achievements we don’t understand, sisters whose heads and shoulders rise above the rest and attract the potshots, too often from us.
To achieve “gender equality” requires much more than reversing entrance exam rules to admit girls alongside the boys. It takes deep and careful surgery to remove the cataracts which keep society from seeing women — indeed keep women from accepting women — as smart, skilled, and accomplished.
Tomorrow morning I will vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States because she is a principled, smart, skilled, accomplished politician who will do an amazingly good job, whether I like how and what she does or not.
She doesn’t have to like my mathematics either.
The Featured Image is of my collectible Steif donkey who fell off a consignment shelf into my arms a few weeks ago. Of course I named her Hillary.