You want the world for your daughter and that includes opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, particularly given that careers in STEM show the most promise forher future career prospects. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women only account for about 25 percent of all STEM jobs. That’s despite the fact that women make up half of the total workforce and STEM-related jobs tend to have smaller-than-normal wage gaps between men and women. But you can’t turn your baby girl into the next Bill Gates without teaching her math first, which seems to be the problem (unless she just doesn’t want to look like Bill Gates).
A new massive study spanning across 68 nations is taking steps to figure that out the root of the problem, looking at 761,655 students, all age 15. Researchers found that young girls in developed, gender equal countries actually experience more anxiety about mathematics than in less developed and unequal ones. The disproportionate anxiety was not reflective of their actual performance in math, which sadly suggests that girls might do better if they thought they could. Perhaps the most surprising part of their findings was that having a mother working in a STEM-related career did not curb this anxiety in girls — so you can’t rely on your brilliant wife to solve this, even if she did go to MIT.
Ultimately, the issue is on both of you. Researchers found that no matter what line of work they were in, parents across the board encouraged mathematics more in their sons than in their daughters. As boring as cheering on math homework on might be, that could be the difference between your daughter taking care of you when she grows up, or simply getting by. And after relearning all that algebra, you will have earned that beach house she’ll buy you one day. Or you know, just wait on Google to think of everything.