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                女生不擅长数学?原因可能是阅读能力太强

                2019-12-30 09:04:37  每日学英语

                Are good readers more likely to give up on maths?

                女生不擅长数学?原因可能是阅读能力太强

                ?

                The gender gap in maths-related subjects is proving stubbornly persistent. In almost all countries, far fewer women than men choose to pursue potentially lucrative careers in maths, physics, engineering and computer science. While initiatives such as providing girls with mentors and role models, and taking steps to tackle stereotypes and unconscious gender biases, can be helpful, their effects are often small. At the current rate of change, women are likely to remain outnumbered in maths-related fields for decades to come.

                与数⌒学相关的学科一直顽固存在着性别差距。在几乎所有国家,选择数学、物理、工程和计算机这些职业前途很好的专业的女性远远少于男性。尽管为女孩提供导师∩和榜样、采取措施消除刻板印象和无意识的性别偏见等举措可能有∑ 所帮助,但影响往往很小。按照目前的变化速度,未来几十年里,女性在数理化相关领域的人数可能仍将处于⊙劣势。

                It’s not that girls and women are bad at maths. While boys do tend to perform better than girls in maths tests, the average gender difference is small. In the UK in 2019, for example, 39% of 18-year-old girls who studied maths at A-level achieved an A or A*, compared to 42% of boys. For A-level physics, 29% of girls achieved the top two grades, compared to 28% of boys. But in both subjects, boys heavily outnumbered girls – by more than 3:1 in the case of physics. So why are so many girls turning their backs on these subjects?

                这并不是说女孩和女性不擅长数学,数理化成绩不好。虽然男孩在数学考试中往往比女孩表现得较好,但平均性别差异很小。例如,2019年英国A-level考试,学习数学〓的18岁女孩有39%的人获得了A或A*的成绩,而男孩为42%,略高一点。在A-level物理科考试中,29%的女生取得了前两个等级的高分,而♀男生只有28%。但选学这两门科目的男生人数都远远超过女生,在物理上,男女比例超过了3:1。那么,为什么有那么多的女孩对物理数学不感兴趣呢?

                A study published recently in the journal PNAS suggests that the answer may in fact lie in male-female differences in academic ability, but the ability in question is reading, not maths. Studies have consistently shown that girls and women outperform their male counterparts in reading and writing. They may also be better at acquiring foreign languages.

                最近发表在《美国国↓家科学院院刊》(PNAS)上的一项研究表明,问题的答案实际上可能在于男女在学术能力上的差异,但这项存在性别差异的学术能力〒是语言阅读能力,而非数学能力。研究一直表明,女孩和女性在语文阅读和写作方面要优于¤男性。女性学习掌握外语的能力也可能较强。

                Thomas Breda, at the Paris School of Economics, and Clotilde Napp, at Paris Dauphine University, wondered whether this male-female difference in reading could help explain the gender gap in STEM careers. Could it be that girls are not being pushed out of maths, so much as being pulled into fields that allow them to use their superior language skills?

                巴黎经济卐学院(Paris School of Economics)的学者托马斯•布雷达(Thomas Breda)和巴黎多芬大学(Paris Dauphine University)的克洛蒂尔德•纳普(Clotilde Napp)想知道,男女在阅读☆方面的差异是否能够用来解释理工科(STEM)职业领域中的性别差异。涉猎数学的女性较少,是否并︼非因为女性数学才能不行,而是因语言技能比男性要出ω色?

                 

                ‘Consider relative strengths instead of absolute ability’

                “考虑相对优势而不是绝对能力”

                Every three years, hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds in more than 60 countries take part in the PISA study, run by the OECD. Students complete tests in maths, reading and science, and answer questions about their future career intentions. When Breda and Napp looked at the data from PISA 2012, they realised they were on to something.

                每三〗年一次,有60多个国家数十万15岁青少年参加由联合国经合组织(OECD)举办的国际学生能力评估测试(PISA)。这些Ψ 学生接受数学、阅读和科学的测试,并回答有关他们未来职业意向的问题。当布雷达和纳普看到2012年的PISA 的测试数据时,他们意识到他们发※现了一些东西。

                “There were small gender gaps in maths performance at 15 years old, but these gaps were too small to explain the huge gender segregation in STEM,” says Breda. But for reading, the tables were turned; the girls were much better than the boys. As a result, when a boy and a girl had similar scores in maths, the girl usually had an even better score in reading.

                布雷达说,“15岁学生在数学成绩上男女生差别很小,由于差别太小,不足以解释为何在后来理工科职业领域方面性别差异会那么大。”但当他们查看语文阅读成绩数据,则发现情∞况逆转,女生成绩比男生要好得多。结果是,如果一个男孩和一个女孩的数学成绩相近,这位女孩通常在语文阅读分数上比这位男孩→要高一些。

                When Breda and Napp compared each student’s scores in reading and maths, they found that this ‘difference score’ accurately predicted how likely that student was to plan to pursue further studies in maths. The greater a student’s advantage in reading, the less likely they were to plan a career in maths, even when their maths score was also high. Notably, this was true for both boys and girls. “Nothing is gender specific,” says Breda. “That’s what makes these results interesting. You can explain much of the difference between boys and girls [in career choices] with the difference between their grades in maths and reading.”

                布雷达和纳普比较了每个学生在阅读和数学方面♀的分数后发现,这个“差异分数”能准确预◤测某位学生打算继续学习数①学的可能性有多大。如果学生在阅读方面的优势越大,他们就越不可能在数学方面规划自己的Ψ职业生涯,即使他们的数学成绩也很高。值得注意的是,男孩和女孩都是如此。布雷达说,“没有什么是性别特△定的。这就是让结果显得有趣的原因。你可以用男孩和女孩在数学ㄨ和阅读方面的成绩差异来解释后来他们职业选择上的差异。”

                Other experts who have examined the shortfall of women in the physical sciences agree that this is a plausible explanation for the observed occupational trends. “It makes a lot of sense,” says Sarah Cattan, associate director and head of the Education and Skills sector at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London. “It shows that what matters most when boys and girls choose their field of study is not how good they are in maths or in reading, but how good they are in maths relative to reading. So this is really a story about comparative advantage rather than absolute advantage.”

                研究女性比较少涉猎自然科学领域的其他一些专家对此解释表示认同,认为是对人们所观察到的□ 职业性别趋势的一种合理解释。伦敦财政研究所(Institute for Fiscal Studies)副主任、教育和技能部门主管莎拉•卡坦(Sarah Cattan)说,“这很有◣道理。他们的研究说明,男生和女生选择●自己的研究领域时,最重要的不是他们在数学或阅读方面有多好,而是他们自己的数学成绩与阅读成绩相比是较好还是较差。所以这是一个关于比较优势而不是绝对优势的故事。”

                Lise Eliot, professor of neuroscience at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, agrees. “It makes sense, and prior research supports, that in a competitive academic environment, students would consider their relative strengths as opposed to their absolute math ability when making career decisions.”

                芝加哥罗莎琳富兰克林医学与科学大学的神经科学教授丽丝?艾略特(Lise Eliot)也表示赞同说,“在竞争激烈的学术环境中√№,学生在做职业决定时,会考虑自己的相对优势,而不是绝对的数学能力,这是有道理的,而且之前的研究也支持这一点。”

                 

                How you perceive your abilities matters

                如何看待自己的能力很重要

                However, she adds that test scores are probably not the only factors on which the students are basing their choices. “Such decisions are always made in a social context that includes inter-student competition and gender role conformity. How do boys who are good at maths but not so good at reading project their prowess in the math classroom, for example? And are ‘relative strengths’ reinforced by teacher bias?”

                不过她补◥充说,考试分数可能不是学生做出选择的唯一因素。“职业的选择通常有其社会背景,包括学生间的竞争和性别角色的社会一致性▼认定。例如,数学好但阅读不好的男孩如何在数学课堂上展示他们的才能?老师的偏见是否强化了这种‘相对优势’?”

                Parents and teachers may also treat boys and girls differently, often without realising it, because of the ingrained stereotype that reading is for girls and maths is for boys. One study showed that primary school teachers overestimated the performance of boys in maths and science but underestimated that of girls, for example, while findings of another suggested that parents may read more to their preschool daughters.

                家长和老师对待男生和女生的态度也不一样,他们往往没有意识到这一点,因为有一种根深蒂固的成见,认为阅㊣读是女孩的事,数学是男孩的事。例如,一项研究表明,小学教师高估了男孩在数学和科学方面的表现】,但低估了女孩的数理化表现,而另一项研究表明,父母可能会给学龄前的女儿读较多的书。

                Whether there are also innate differences in male and female brains that predispose boys and girls to acquiring different skill sets is controversial. In any case, differential socialisation of boys and girls begins at a young age, and can influence how individuals perceive their own abilities and how much they invest in different subjects. “If you take girls and boys that perform similarly in maths, the girls will be much more likely than the boys to think that they perform poorly,” says Breda. This is partly because they have internalised the stereotype that maths is not for them, but also because we all judge our ability in maths by comparing it to our ability in reading, he adds.

                男性和女性的大脑是否也存在先天差异,使得男孩和女孩会比较偏向于不同的技能,这是有争议的问题。无论如何,男孩和女孩的社会角色分化在他们年龄很小的时候就已开始,这可能会影响到他们个人如何看待自己的能力,以及他们决定在不同学科上投入多少努力。布雷达说,“如果把数学成绩相似的女孩和男孩放在一起,女孩会比男孩更有可能认为她们数学成绩不好。”他补充说,部分原因是女孩已经将数学不适合女性的刻板偏见内化到自己意识中,另一个原因是我们评判自己的数学能力,是与自己阅读能力作比较而言。"

                None of this means that we should stop efforts to counter stereotypes about girls’ aptitude for maths and science versus reading. But it does suggest that much of the impact of these stereotypes occurs not at the point at which girls choose a career, but many years earlier. By encouraging girls to engage more in reading than in maths, stereotypes help generate the superior reading skills that will later go on to drive the girls’ career choices. This may also explain why initiatives targeting adolescent girls and women have had relatively limited success in increasing participation in maths-based careers: they may simply be too late.

                尽管如此,并不是说我们应该停止努力去改变认为女孩数理化领域天赋低而语言阅读能力高这样的刻板印象。但这◣也确实表明,这些根深蒂固的性别偏见对女性的很大影响不是发生在她选择职业的时刻,而是多年前已出现。这种偏见从幼年开始就鼓励女孩多语言阅读而少鼓励她们发展数学兴趣,因而培养出女孩优秀的语言阅读技能,而这些技能随后将推动女孩作出自己的职业选择。这也可以解释为什么针对青少年女子和妇女的数理化职业训练计划收效相对有〇限,因为她们的数学兴趣培养可能起步已太迟了。

                Instead, closing the gender gap in maths and the physical sciences may actually depend more on reducing boys’ comparative disadvantage in reading.

                相反,要缩小数理化科学领域的性别差距,或许还必须采取措施降低男孩在语言学习方面的相对劣势。

                 

                Make boys better readers

                让男孩成为较好的阅读者

                David Geary, a cognitive developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri, says that this would also have broader benefits for society. “If you look at the students that are poorly educated, it’s mostly boys, and mostly in reading and writing.” Failing to tackle this could lead to many boys, especially from low-income families, being left “under-employed or unemployable”. Moreover, he says, there can be a tendency to view gender gaps in which men are the minority as somehow less of a concern than those where women are outnumbered. “The whole thing is disingenuous in the sense that no-one talks about the gap in veterinary medicine, for example, which is more than 80% women now.”

                密苏里大学的认知发展心理学家戴维•吉尔里(David Geary)表示,帮助男孩的语言阅读能力对社会也大有好处,“如果你看看那些教育程度很低的学生,你会发现他们大多是男孩,而且大多是表现在阅读和写作方面。”如果不能解决这个问题,可能会导致很多男孩,尤其是来自低收入家庭的男孩,“失业或半失业”。此外,他说,社会可能倾向于认为,与女性人数少的领域相比,男性占少数的性】别差异不足以令人担心。“但这不是真实的,例如,没有人谈论兽医学界从业者的性别差距,现在超过80%的兽医是女性。”

                Eliot is confident that the reading gap can be reduced, saying it’s smaller among children from more educated households, which provide home instruction and likely value reading and writing more highly. “That suggests that gender reading and writing gaps are as close-able as the gender gap in math, with the right educational interventions,” she says.

                艾『略特相信,阅读差距是可以缩小的。他说,在受教育程⊙度较高的家庭中,孩子们的阅读差距较小,因为家庭教育更注重孩子的读写能力。她说,“这说明,只要采取正确的教育干预措施,男孩女孩在语文阅读和写作方面的差距与在数学方面的性别︼差距一样可以缩小。”

                Raising the status of reading and associated career paths would also be good news for girls and women. “Most of these debates are often presented from a male-centred point of view,” notes Breda. “We say: ‘We should push girls to do science. Girls should be more like boys and women should be more like men.’ But that’s not a good way to think of it, it’s already biased.”

                提升语文阅读的地位和相关的职业对女孩和妇女来说也是个好消息。布雷达指出,“有关的争论大多出自于男性为中心的观念。因此我们常这样说, 我们应该鼓励女孩投身科学。女孩应该更像男孩,女人应该更像男人。但这不是←一个好的思考方式,这本身就是偏见。”

                Ensuring that boys and girls acquire a solid foundation in both maths and reading, and that both skill sets are given equal status, as well as continuing efforts to remove gender stereotypes will all be important for ensuring that all individuals have as many options open to them as possible. Whether eliminating these differences will in fact remove differences in male-female subject choices, or whether other differences will emerge, remains to be seen.

                确保男孩和女孩在数学和语文阅读两方面都有坚实的基础,文理两种技能都得到平等对待,并继续努力消除性别成见,是为了确保所有人,无论男女,都有尽可能多的人生选择。但消除学科技能的性别差异是否真的能够消除男女在文科和理工科学业和职业选择上的差异,或是否将因此出现其他新的差异?这个问题尚有待于研究。

                “Do we want to swap biologists for computer programmers?” says Geary. “Maybe, maybe not. But it s up to the individual to make that choice.”

                吉尔里说,“我们是想让生物学家改行做计算机程序员吗? 也许是,也许不是。但这取决于每个人自己的选择。”

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