[University of Illinois's Rochelle] Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."I'm not sure by what magic being good at maths, and using maths to write winning grant proposals, turns into unearned privilege. Fifty years ago, the complaint against the mathematicians was complicity in the military-industrial complex, which is to say, using one's skills to batten off a corrupt order, but these days, holding a scarce skill and profiting by it becomes privilege. Egad.
Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.
“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.
Further, she also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.Good grief. And so soon after Hollywood released a movie honoring the previously hidden talents of a few talented women that got the numbers right for the early space program.
“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
Want to lower the salaries of math jocks? Practice solving lots of integrals.