Math Anxiety – Fiction?

15 09 2013

Test anxiety. Symptoms include sweaty palms, twitching, shortening of breath and nervous energy. Many of us, men and women alike, have experienced it. But why is that women are more commonly portrayed to suffer from this? Surveys of high school students have shown that women are more likely to suffer from test anxiety than males, especially in math classes. In my experience, my female classmates were more expressive about their test anxiety while males where cool, calm, and collected. But does the outer appearance really portray individuals’ true experience?

A new study published in the journal of Psychological Science found that girls report test anxiety at a higher level than they experience. This study went beyond surveying the students, but also spent time in the math class watching the students as they took the exam. Surveys were administered before and after the exam. The results showed that women measured to have higher anxiety before exams were taken but during the class they had no more math anxiety than the men. This is encouraging even though it shows how much we as women have to break stereotypes.

The students tested were from grades 5 -11. Remembering back to this range, I remember trying as hard as I could to fit in. I wanted the girls to like me, and I wanted the boys attention. This was a fine balance to accomplish. The media portrays desirable women to let the man be the best. For many, this meant that being good at “tougher” subjects such as math or science was undesirable. The most popular method to get guys attention was to express worry over these subjects in hopes of them offering their support or sympathy. While this method worked, many of the friends I knew had a natural ability for math but refused to own up to it. Only once they entered college and recognized that being perceived as smart was a non-issue.

This study to me brings to light the importance of young ladies to understand that it is okay to be smart. Test anxiety is a real occurrence but women should not feel extra pressure because of their math ability. Most importantly, women need to give themselves permission to be good at math and science. Society should not persuade these young women to believe that are bad at math just because stereotypes state this. Lets change the way our youth believe they must be and allow them to pursue their passions.

– Marea


7 01 2013

Outside of planning this conference, I work a part-time job at Ann Taylor Loft. I am pleased to share that Ann Inc is also working towards empowering women and educating the newest generation of females, a reason why I am glad to be working for this company. Ann Inc has partnered with the non-profit Vital Voices to accomplish this goal.

When I arrived at work today there were cards next to the registers promoting AnnPower. This initiative, signed in 2011, allows young ladies that are standing Juniors and Seniors to attend a leadership conference and training program in Washington DC. Women with all interests, including science and technology, are encouraged to apply for this opportunity. Each lady has the opportunity to present their ideas on how to improve their community. Each winner is eligible for grants to help make these ideas happen.

For all the young women attending this conference, you should consider this opportunity as well. If I were eligible I would be applying in a heartbeat. I encourage all of you to consider applying. For those of us too old or too young to apply, Let us consider how we can improve our community or help empower females everywhere.

More information about this can be found at

Girl-It Facts

30 11 2012

During a meeting, I was pointed to a great report discussing why women are not in the STEM field. This was created by NCWIT and contains such amazing information. This is exactly why we are planning this conference and what we hope to convey. Please take a look and spread the message 🙂

I find it interesting how so many aspects are effecting the number of women entering computer science. This reports goes beyond the gender stereotype and looks further into what classes in high school are available, what courses are required (surprisingly not many states require math and science). As someone who loved biology and math in high school, I cannot imagine having the same experience without them.

Some questions to ponder is why these classes are not a priority and how can we convince society that they should be considered more thoroughly? I would love any ideas and thoughts 🙂