Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who says women have a math problem?

For too many girls today, they learn the "common wisdom" that math is just too hard for them to attempt – and they foolishly take that fear to heart without every testing their own mettle.
You can't solve girls' math problems by making them pink!
Girls don't have a problem with math they have a problem with misperception.
Fortunately as a child, Shakuntala Devi never heard that advice. Instead, she let her natural abilities with numbers blossom. She became an unsurpassed mathematical prodigy.

Here are just a few of her amazing mathematical accomplishments:

  • In 1977, tasked with calculating the 23rd root of a 201-digit number, she out-performed a Univac computer by 12 seconds.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records recorded her 1980 mental multiplication of two 13-digit numbers—with a 26-digit solution—at a mere 28 seconds.
  • Twice (once on the BBC, another time at the University of Rome) she corrected calculations supplied to interviewers.
  • An American researcher couldn't even start the stopwatch before she provided two complex answers.

    Shakuntala Devi is a glowing example of just how wrong "common wisdom" is about so many things. How many other things are we foolishly believing just because someone told us it is so?

    Instead of just accepting social standards as truth, we need to test our own perceptions. Too often the problem with math — or anything else — is only prejudicial bias. When we choose to tap into our own innate abilities, we can evolve into far more than we currently imagine possible.
    I wonder... what you think.
    Cartoon Credit: TwistedPhysicsBlog

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