Friday, October 15, 2010

Mathematics


I've always hated the phrase (and usually from girls and women) "I just hate math!" or " Math is so not a female thing!"

When on earth did that perception start? Women have always being doing math. Try making a cake and measuring out the ingredients, or even eye-balling them or calculating how many to feed with the recipe. Math.

Try embroidery, measuring out the floss, counting the stitches, calculating the design, the hem. Math.

Try knitting. I started some gift scarves for Solstice today using an old pattern of my paternal grandmother whose portrait shows her wearing this pattern in a jumper. If that's not counting and calculating what is? The quantity of wool, the repeats of the pattern, the border of the design, divided, multiplied, don't forget seam allowance, both sides, mind you. Measure and repeat. Size of needle to get the required swatch in inches and stitches. And I'm not even mentioning the complex arithmetic of old Irish aran patterns. Math.

Dressmaking. I would design clothes, even made my husband's suits at one point. All measuring and calculating. Fabric is expensive. Measurements save money. I made my own wedding dress. And all my daughter's bridesmaids' dresses. Math.

I could go on.

Amazing what thoughts go through one's head as one sits in front of the fire, the only sound that of the crackling logs, the dog's even breathing and the whisper of the needles.

12 comments:

  1. Good point, maths are involved in so many everyday things we just take it for granted. That brought me a similar thought about DIY. That's also seen as a guy thing but what about cooking, sewing, growing vegetables, dressmaking, in fact all the things you mention. Aren't they also DIY?

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  2. The nor easter that blew through here today is on its way to you, I think. Bring in the lawn furniture!

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  3. Nick:
    Excellent point, how so-called 'women's work' is diminished all the time by not according it the effort and ability it so rightly deserves!
    XO
    WWW

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  4. Zuleme:
    I think we're good where I am - the Avalon Peninsula, high winds are for the West - it is a VAST province, there is snow already in Labrador...yikes!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Men must do "woman's work" to appreciate how much effort and skill much of it takes!

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  6. and don't forget counting the days from your last period before having sex to make sure you don't get pregnant.

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  7. Marcia:
    I forgot, men can't do that!
    XO
    WWW

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  8. I'm mathematically-challenged as it happens,WWW, but it's not connected to my gender - more to the way my brain is wired up - that's my story.

    I can add very long columns of figures, or pounds, shillings and pence, a skill learned as a book-keeper/receptionist in hotels in my youth, when ledgers were still around in place of computers.
    That's my entire sum of mathematical skill.

    At school I needed to put in little effort to be very good at French and Latin, but was useless at maths.

    They used to say that only the most exceptional students are good at both disciplines.
    Don't know how true that is.

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  9. I am fine once you do not call it math or maths!

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  10. Another maths on the cooking - working out timings of a dinner backwards from when you want to eat (particularly if it is something like a joint or a roast chicken, where you have to calculate cooking times based on the weight of the meat). Essential if you have guests coming!

    I was always good at the 'pure' maths - the algebra - the starting with x and working out what y should be and how to get there. My problems with maths started when they put the physics into it (I was the only one in the class not taking physics at that point, and I got lost when the teacher assumed knowledge I didn't have, and never caught up). That pushed me into an "I'm no good at maths" spiral, which took me a long time to get out of.

    Now, I use my algebraic maths on a regular basis, at work and at home. But I still shudder when anyone tries to get me to think about vectors and velocity!

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  11. I'm in with Grannymar, I can do "it" just fine until, someone puts it in the context of the M word.
    Ranchers never trust the weatherman, what comes comes...

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