Changing the Faces of Mathematics: Perspective on Gender

NCTM
Review by: Melody Mazloom

The “Perspectives on Gender” issue of this series of books on mathematics education provides a broad overview of the issue of the gender gap in mathematics, which refers to the fact that, on average, boys outperform girls in mathematics. This book has a wide target audience: teachers, educational administrators, policymakers, and even parents and students can benefit from this text. The authors, part of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) based in the U.S., approach the issue with the lens that the gender gap in math can be eliminated. The book contains 19 chapters by different scholars and practitioners around the issue of the gender gap. Some examples of the topics covered include: the ways women and girls learn; critical multicultural mathematics; action-research in the classroom; assessment to eliminate gender bias; the use of math in the everyday lives of women at work; and the experiences of minority women and women of color who excelled at math. There are several interesting chapters that highlight various interventions aimed at reducing the gender gap including: mentorship programs, single-sex classes, enrichment programs, and math activities aimed at engaging girls in primary school.

A chapter that I found particularly interesting was geared towards parents and girls. Entitled: “Crucial Points in Mathematics Decision Making: Advice for Young Women”, and written by Patricia B. Campbell and Kathryn B. Campbell-Kibler, it provides parents and young women information that can help them make decisions about continuing with their mathematics education at various crossroads: Grade 5, Grade 8 and Grade 10 and beyond.

Overall, the text is useful for educators because it provides a theoretical overview of the issue as well as practical resources teachers can use in the classroom to help girls excel at math.