Explorations In Math

“Allergic to Algebra?” Give me a Break!

Published on September 19 2011

One of my colleagues at Explorations in Math brought to my attention an online petition that I’d like to share with you. You have probably read or heard about the tee-shirts JC Penney was selling for a while. Aimed at girls, the message on the front, surrounded by hearts and flowers, read, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” This offensive message, focusing on a girl’s looks while at the same time disparaging school work, prompted an outraged public to demand that JC Penney stop selling the tee. Now there’s another anti-math tee-shirt being sold, this time by Forever 21. The front of this tee reads “Allergic to Algebra.” Again, it’s being marketed to girls and young women. These messages only perpetuate the current alarming statistics around girls and math that a recent University of Washington Study reported.  CREDO pulls no punches in its condemnation of these shirts:

“Sexist slogans like these play into and perpetuate the incorrect stereotype that women are innately bad at math or being pretty is more important than being smart. By selling these shirts, the stores give their implicit support of these stereotypes to convince girls that, to be stylish and fit in, they must be bad at math or less interested than boys in academic achievement.”

If you agree, I urge you to read more and sign the online petition here.  I did.

Dave Gardner

Mathematician in Residence

2 Reader Comments to ““Allergic to Algebra?” Give me a Break!”
  • By Beth on September 19, 2011 | Reply

    I would love for these retailers to sell shirts that say, “Of course I can do math; I’ma girl!”

  • By Dave Gardner on September 21, 2011 | Reply

    That’s a great t-shirt slogan, Beth! If retailers wouldn’t touch it, I bet NCTM would.

Post a Comment