Culture may turn potentially high achievers away from math
The study, by cancer biochemist Janet Mertz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her collaborators, appears in the November Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
Mertz’s team tallied the participants in top international competitions for high school students, the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition and the International Mathematical Olympiad, and other data. While girls were underrepresented on all countries’ teams, some countries, including the United States, often had no girls on a team.
The large discrepancies between teams point to cultural causes, Mertz says. “It’s not that girls don’t have the intrinsic aptitude to excel at this level,” she says, “but