Hello everyone, my name is Emily and I am bad at math. Sometimes this makes me feel like a failure as a feminist.
See, I’m a nerd at heart (surprise!), and a lot of my favourite websites and blogs accrete STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) news alongside covert footage of the new Millenium Falcon. I certainly don’t mind — after all, I follow NASA on Facebook. I really am truly interested in most of the science news that comes across my dash, but it’s like being a child with a crush on one of her parent’s friends: I think it’s so incredibly cool and it thinks I’m kind of silly. Left-brainers range from befuddled to downright arrogant when dealing with us right-brainers.
At any rate I see a lot of news about how important it is to get more girls into STEM fields, and it leaves me feeling a little guilty. I would consider myself both a nerd and a feminist, and yet my brain seems to be built like a sieve with number-shaped holes. Seriously, when my husband was doing his engineering degree he would sometimes vent about the concepts he was learning and even when I was trying very hard to focus and follow what he was saying, my brain would go fuzzy and I’d entirely lose track of his words. Numbers just make my brain congeal a little.
I’m not exaggerating. I can do the same problem four times and get four different answers. The numbers swim and change places, and working through problems feels like pushing something heavy through something thick, only to find out you were moving the wrong heavy object once the job is done. STEM types laud math for being so reliable and utterly logical, but it’s always felt rather arcane to me. Continue reading