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Why aren’t Kashmiri girls into maths, asks an aspiring female mathematician

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By Afreena Hamid

Srinagar, Mar 24: Arithmophobia or Numerophobia is exaggerated constant and irrational fear of numbers and is mostly related to women. This is not the result of our biology (genes) but rather a social effect as exhibited in experiments.
Difference in mathematical abilities often explored in research concern gender disparities. There has been research examining gender difference on standardized tests across various countries.
Beller and Gafni have shown that children at approximately nine years of age do not show any consistent gender difference in relation to math skills, however in 17 out of 20 countries examined in this study, 13 year old boys tended to score higher than girls due to less confidence imposed in girls by the society.
Moreover, mathematics is labeled as a masculine ability. As a result, girls often have low confidence in their mathematical capabilities.
The gender stereotype can reinforce low confidence in girls and can cause math’s anxiety as research has shown that performance on standardized math tests is affected by ones confidence (Dar-Nimrod and Heine 2006).
As a result educators have been trying to abolish this stereotype by fostering confidence in students to study mathematics in order to avoid the anxiety usually associated with the subject. Stereotype threat can intercede with performance influencing men positively and women negatively.
Stereotypes are undoubtedly hard to break when it comes to education and gender. Parents and students stick with a firmly belief that girls do not do so well in maths while boys do not have great language and reading skills.
The researchers from the University of New Bruinswick in Canada were surprised by the results. “We didn’t expect to find that girls did better at mathematics,” says Daniel Voyer Professor of psychology who published their results in the American Psychological Association journal ‘Psychology Bulletin’.
In Kashmir, I have witnessed the gender disparity when it comes to mathematics from my school times. In my school male math teachers were preferred while female teachers were confined to language based subjects.
It was heartening when finally I had a female maths teacher (Rehana ma’am) in higher secondary Tral but this cheering couldn’t last long as she, in spite of being the best, was replaced by some other male teacher.
Then in my college and even in the University of Kashmir where I study now, there is no female faculty around.
This stereotype has so much influence in our minds that out of 70 (non-medical and compound arts) graduates from our college, we are only three girls who further pursued mathematics.
While discussing the issue with a female undergraduate math student, I was stunned when she said that she probably didn’t have a “math brain”.
We must not perpetuate the idea of “math brain”. If girls think that they don’t have the “math brain” and if mathematics is not a girly thing then it’s very important to pin some inspirations here:
Maria Geatana Agnesia (1718-1799). Italian mathematician and philosopher, possibly the first female mathematics professor
Beatrice Ailchison (1908-1997). American topologist who became a leading transport economist in the US civil service
Florence Eliza Allen (1876-1960) second female and fourth overall mathematics Phd from the university of Wisconsin
Sylvie Benzoni, French expert in fluid dynamics and partial differential equations director of the institute Henri Poincare
When will we have a deep look upon these examples? When will we come to know how important mathematics is and how these stereotypes have nothing to do with the reality and facts?
Mathematics is a subject that everyone has to study at one time or the other. Almost all academic disciplines include mathematics in one way or another but unfortunately students suffer from Arithmophobia fearing numbers, equations, integrals, and complexes.
But girls need to contemplate why this problem persists. Yes it’s not easy to deal with mathematical equations. Yes, we get stressed out when we have to spend hours on just one problem or constantly go to as many tutoring sessions as possible but we only have to heed about the root cause of our semiliterate mathematics.
One of the basic reasons responsible for this semi literacy is our overly procedural thinking. I have seen students who are extremely skilled at mathematics but have troubles when they connect and relate mathematical processes to the real world. The reasons also include lack of practice and practical uses of mathematics.
Educational institutes are mostly responsible for that. The importance and practical usage of mathematics has never been prominently and thoroughly explained to students.
Most university courses include some level of mathematics while almost every profession uses maths in some form on a daily basis.
To relish on core subject like mathematics, we must think where do girls get the message from that they are not supposed to be good at maths.
History is full of examples where females have made a lasting impact in mathematics. We have The Sophia Identity, The Noether Nornalisation Lemma, and Olga Lady Zhenskaya, who proved a result to Navier–Stokes equations.
To study mathematics and take it up as a career, girls should take inspirations from these and need to build a solid base of appropriate mathematical content coupled with an equivalent strong and stalwart set of mathematical process skills allowing them to apply their knowledge successfully. [Author is pursuing Masters in mathematics at Kashmir University. Feedback at [email protected]]

 
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Art 35-A row: SC to take ‘in-chamber’ decision on listing of plea

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New Delhi, Jan 22: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Advocate Bimal Roy Jad mentioned the matter before the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna.
He sought urgent hearing of the petition, filed by ‘We The Citizens’, saying the court had earlier ordered listing of the matter in the second week of January.
In August, the apex court adjourned hearing on a batch of petitions challenging Article 35 A till January this year, after taking note of submissions of the Centre and the state government that there was a law and order problem in the state.
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.
The apex court had on August 31 deferred till January the hearing on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35 A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir, after the Centre and the state said that polls to local bodies polls there would go on till December.
Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that certain aspects of Article 35A needed to be debated upon and said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”
On August 6, the apex court had said that a three-judge bench would decide whether the pleas challenging Article 35A should be referred to a five-judge constitution bench for examining the larger issue of alleged violation of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
Several petitions including by political parties like the National Conference and the CPI-M, have also moved the Supreme Court in support of Article 35-A that empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.

 

‘JK women marrying non-natives don’t lose residency rights’

 

Srinagar, Jan 22: Women hailing from Jammu and Kashmir who choose to marry men from outside the state do not lose their residency and inheritance rights under Article 35-A of the Constitution, a top legal expert said on Tuesday.
“This issue was settled by a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the case titled State and others vs Dr Susheela Sawhney and others in October 2002 by striking down the proviso of the state subject (permanent residency) law according to which women marrying outsiders would lose their permanent resident status,” former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir government Ishaq Qadri said.
The bench, in the landmark judgment on 7 October 2002, held by a majority view that the daughter of a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose her status as a permanent resident upon her marriage to a person from outside the state.
Qadri’s remarks come after the Supreme Court said earlier on Tuesday it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the then PDP-Congress coalition government challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court but later withdrew its petition.
“Then law minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh brought Jammu and Kashmir Permanent Resident Status (Disqualification) Bill 2004 in the state legislative assembly and it was passed by the lower house in March 2004,” the former advocate general said.
“Since it was a Constitutional amendment bill, it needed two-thirds majority to be passed. The National Conference, which was in the opposition, supported it, ensuring the passage of the bill in the assembly,” Qadri said.
Had the bill passed the scrutiny of the legislative council — the upper house of the state legislature — and got the governor’s assent, the women marrying men outside the state would have lost their status as permanent residents, he added.
However, there was an outcry against the bill, mainly in the Jammu region.
It was taken up for discussion in the legislative council but the then chairman Abdul Rashid Dar adjourned the House sine die without taking a vote on it, Qadri said.
“As A result, the bill lapsed and it was never reintroduced,” he said, adding that the high court ruling on the permanent residency rights of women marrying outside the state stands as on date.
Article 35-A was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the then Cabinet headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the previous hearing of the petition filed by NGO ‘We The Citizens’, a lawyer had given an illustration and said if a native woman of the state married an outsider, she loses several rights, including property rights, in the state, but if a man marries a Pakistani woman, he and his spouse get all rights.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Jammu and Kashmir government in the apex court, had agreed to the contention that Article 35-A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon.
He said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A).”

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Avalanche hits Ramban, 12-year-old girl among 2 killed

Heavy snowfall closes Sgr-Jmu highway; weather to improve from today

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Two persons were killed and many others went missing after an avalanche hit them while they were heading home at Kawana Trigam village in Ramban district on Tuesday.
Official sources said that snow avalanche, which occurred at around 3 pm near Kawana at Trigam, swept away four persons.
Bodies of two persons were recovered and they have been identified as Rafiq (25) son of Ghulam Qadir and Sumerna (12) daughter of Mukhtar Ahmed.
The missing persons have been identified as Fatha Begum (30), son of Surkh Ahmed and Taja Begum (32) wife of Margob. All residents of Trigam, 50kms from Ramban, were moving towards their home when the avalanche struck them.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban has sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh in favour of each of the Next of kin of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the local meteorological department predicted improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said there will be improvement in the weather conditions from Wednesday.
Ahmad further added that there is no further prediction of rain or snowfall across the Valley till January 29 but on Jan 25, the weather would remain cloudy throughout the day as per the present forecast.
The intermittent rainfall continued to lash plains since Sunday evening while as the higher reaches and other districts of the Valley experienced fresh snowfall.
The snowfall at various places especially Srinagar-Jammu highway led to the continuous closure of the only road connecting Valley with rest of the States.
The highway was closed for second straight day today in view of the fresh snowfall that triggered slippery conditions of the roads.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers are stranded on the highway at Banihal or other districts in Jammu due to the closure of roads who have demanded authorities to open the highway for vehicular movement at an earliest.
However, officials said that men and machinery has already been deployed to clear the road but the fresh snowfall on Tuesday disrupted the road clearance work.
“The road clearance work is on and the road will be thrown open after the roads are cleared,” they added. (With inputs from GNS)

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Observe Jan 26 as ‘Black Day’: Joint Hurriyat to people

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Srinagar, Jan 22: The Joint Hurriyat Leadership on Tuesday urged people to observe January 26 as a ‘black day’ to register their strong protest against New Delhi for not resolving Kashmir dispute.
In a statement, the Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said that for past 71 years people of J&K have been demanding the right to self-determination that Indian leadership promised to them.
“However, till this day not only has that commitment not been fulfilled but those that remind them of it are rewarded with bullets and pellets are incarcerated and gagged,” the statement said.
They said that lakhs of armed forces are deployed to suppress the aspirations of people and draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA are invoked to ensure people’s sentiments do not get out of hand.
“Hundreds of people are lodged and languishing in jails in JK and outside whose only crime is their demand for restoration of basic human and political rights the fundamental right to decide their destiny,” the Joint Hurriyat said.

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