Math Whiz Mayhem

I like math, I have a degree in science and I am a girl. That’s not so weird right? Don’t get me wrong, as an adult I love the fact that I can do algebra with my kids (for now) and I am the one they go to with science homework.  But it wasn’t always that way. Growing up I hid the fact that those were my favorite subjects. While bright girls are commended for their efforts, there are assumptions that often follow those compliments. Girls are expected to do well in English and Writing but boys are the ones who will excel in Math and Sciences. I faced that growing up. I loved math and science but would hold back. My girlfriends didn’t understand why I liked it, boys tried to out math me, and my teachers assumed the boys could do it better. Starting in third grade I would wait until a couple of boys turned in their work before I would turn in mine. Sometimes I would sit at my desk staring at a completed paper, thinking this is silly. That’s about the time I realized girls aren’t expected to be better at something that was a “boy thing”.

All too often girls are our own worst enemy when it comes to accepting ourselves and our strengths. Sadly, it starts at an early age. A recent article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D on The Trouble with Bright Girls states, “Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.We continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives..”  These beliefs prevent us from achieving goals. I stayed at my desk in class because of doubt and fears. I didn’t want to be recognized for something that I wasn’t supposed to be good at. I really didn’t want to be made fun of for it either.

It wasn’t until college that I stopped waiting to turn in work. Suddenly the boys were asking me for help.  I decided I didn’t want to be expected, I wanted to be the unexpected. That decision led me to making a career out of something I love and enjoy, which is a gift. Once I finally started to let go of the idea that I couldn’t be just as good as any boy, those doubts and fears started to fade. I wish I realized this much sooner. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time staring at papers.

Amy Childs is the Wellness Coordinator for Alachua County Government and mom to 3 kids. She received a degree in Exercise Science from the University of South Florida and is currently in the MBA Healthcare Management program at Saint Leo University.  She enjoys being active and exercising every day, especially joining her boys in the weight room.