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THE LEN LESSER REPORT  

THE LEN LESSER REPORT

 

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MATH EXPERTISE IS NOT GENDER SPECIFIC

When my daughter Sarah was in grade four at River Heightís in Dorchester she came home and told me that "she thoroughly hated math". Her female teacher told her that : "girls do not as a rule do well in math, she too did not like math and she left math to the end of the day if she had the time to teach math." Sarah had the perfect storm why she didnít like math; simple fact that she was female sufficed. As her father I tried to debunk the false theory but to no avail.

Yesterday Ella and I went to see the five star Academy Award nominee film, "Hidden Figures." The inspirational true story of the first African-American mathematician , Katherine Johnston and her two colleagues whose mathematical genius were the rasion díetre success of NASA (The National Aeronatics and Space Administration being able to safely send the first American astronauts into space.

Being Black and women in an all white segregated male only atmosphere where being Black and females was looked upon as being inferior the women had to prove themselves every day that they belonged.

Segregation was the rule of law in Florida for Blacks who were denied the rights of attending desegregated school and even the use of all white washrooms and drinking fountains. Being simply women there was little to no expectations that they would be able to do well in mathematics; especially Calculus and Analytical Geometry. The women prevailed and showed that they were on a equal/ more qualified status then their male associates.

In addition to helping the launch of John Glenn into orbit from Cape Canaveral the brilliant women crossed the oppressive gender and race lines. The women defied expectations and battled stereotypes. In the process they inspired generations of young people to aim high and dream big all the way to the stratosphere and beyond.

My daughter Sarah has enrolled her daughter Georgia in after school math in Toronto and she likes to challenge her mom to compete with her telling her that: "she was not allowed to use a calculator to do the math."

My youngest granddaughter, Marlow has taught me how to play Xís and OíS. She goes first with two Xís and I have one O and she always seems to win.

As a long time educator the false premise that females do not do well in math is an "old manís fallacy" and is simply wrong. Girls if given & equal opportunity can do just as well as boys in math.

My advise to all of you mothers is to take your daughters to see the movie, "Hidden Figures." No sex, foul language or violence for your daughters to contend with. Just a true real life story of three determined women who are excellent role models for all of our girls to emulate. Who knows, the movie could be the inspiration for a career for your daughter at NASA as & Aerospace Engineer to explore Mars?

Len Lesser is a counselor in Dorchester.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com