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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 afreenahamid3@gmail.com]

 
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Life comes to standstill for the cross-LoC trade workers

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, May 19:  Tragedy befell 50-year-old labourer, Noor-ul-Amin three years ago when he was grievously injured while unloading the goods from the cross-LoC truck at the Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre in Uri.

Unable to work, Amin has been bed-ridden at his home nursing the injury. With no money left to bear the medical expenses, it was his fellow Cross-LoC trade workers who joined in to help Amin in meeting the medical expenses.

Enter the government decision to suspend the Cross LoC trade, the workers, who were not only eking out their living but also helping workers like Amin, were left jobless.  With no money coming, Amin accompanied by his family members can be seen in mosques seeking alms from the people.

 

“For the last one month we couldn’t pool money for Khan. He is now seeking donations from the people at mosques in order to meet his daily expenses of medicines. These labourers would meet expenses of five ill workers who earlier were injured at the facilitation centre”,  said Mohammad Yusuf, a labourer who used to work at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre.

Last month, Centre suspended cross LoC trade from both routes –Salamabad (Uri) and Chakan-da-Bagh  (Poonch)– citing its ‘misuse’ by Pakistan.

Started in October 2008, Cross-LoC trade was considered as mother of all confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. However, the trade could not grow beyond barter system. Lack of proper banking and communication facilities added to the woes of the traders.

More than 600 traders are registered for the cross LoC trade and 21 items are on the approved export and import list from both routes. Some of items to be traded include Rice, Carpets, Precious Stones Wall Hangings, Gabbas Shawls and Stoles, Namdas, Peshwari Leather Chappals, Medicinal Herbs Embroidered Items, Honey, dry and fresh fruits etc.

Official figures reveal that goods worth 1274.43 crore traded out and Rs 1093.39 crore were traded in from 2014-15 to 2016-17 from Uri-Salamabad cross LoC route. Similarly  goods worth Rs 402.34 crore were traded out and Rs 662.78 were traded in from Chakan da Bagh crossing in Poonch from 2014-15 to 2016-17.

Haneef, a 28 year old postgraduate working as a labourer for the last eight years is equally worried with the suspension of the trade. Like him, many educated youth were working as labourers to earn their livilhood.

“This was the only means to earn bread for our families, which too has been snatched now. There are no good avenues of employment in Uri and we fear our families will have to starve ahead,” he said.

Data reveal that there are at least 100 labourer whose livelihood have got impacted due to the closure of cross LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir. “The trade was a source of hope to earn livelihood for many families. We have no other option than to look for other sources, which is becoming harder now” Haneef said.

Scores of labourers have now moved to the other districts for work as hopes fade for the early resumption of cross LoC trade. “Earlier our work station was near to our homes. But now we have to travel to other towns in search of work. Majority of the labourers here have moved to Srinagar, Baramulla or either in Uri town. Our livelihood has been affected as all of us have been rendered jobless,” said Shabir Ahmad another labourer

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Bhaderwah man’s killing: Magisterial probe ordered, curfew continues for 4th day

Press Trust of India

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DODA, MAY 19: Authorities Sunday ordered a time-bound magisterial probe into the killing of a man in firing and subsequent violence here, which prompted imposition of curfew in the communally-sensitive town.

The curfew continued to remain in force without any relaxation for the fourth day on Sunday even as a total of seven persons involved in incidents of stone-pelting were arrested. The Army, which was called out following the violence, was withdrawn, officials said.

The Doda district administration had earlier refuted reports that “cow vigilantism” was the reason behind the killing of Nayeem Shah and said some people were trying to give a communal colour to the incident to flare up the situation.

 

“A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the killing of Shah and subsequent stone-pelting episode. Sub-divisional Magistrate, Thathri, Mohammad Anwar Banday will conduct the inquiry and was asked to submit his report within seven days,” Deputy Commissioner, Doda, Sagar Doifode said.

He said the officer is supposed to give a detailed report on the killing of Shah, reasons thereof and probable causes, besides the reason for stone-throwing and the perpetrators because the administration is of the idea that the stone throwing was well collaborated and needs a thorough investigation.

Doifode said the situation in the curfew-bound areas is well under control and there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere.

“We are monitoring the situation and considering to relax curfew in a phased manner for a few hours later in the day,” he said, adding that the mobile internet services, however, will remain suspended in the town till further orders though the services have been restored in the rest of the district.

The official said the Army was withdrawn from the curfew-bound areas of the town, but the CRPF and police remained deployed in strength especially in the sensitive localities to maintain law and order.

On Saturday, police constituted a five-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by Superintendent of Police, Bhaderwah, Raj Singh Gouria to probe the killing of Shah at village Kachi Nalthi on Thursday.

The SIT visited the site of the incident and also seized a 12-bore gun which is believed to have been used in the killing and sent it to FSL Jammu for examination.

Eight persons have been arrested in connection with the killing so far and are being questioned, Gouria said, adding that seven more persons were arrested for their involvement in violent protests.

The relatives of the deceased alleged that he was victim of cow vigilantism and was targeted as he was involved in cattle trade.

However, the residents of Kachi Nalthi village told police that two to three persons were found moving under suspicious circumstances in the area which led to the firing.

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PDP worker shot dead in Kulgam

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Kulgam, May 19  : Suspected militants on Sunday evening shot at a civilian in Zangalpora area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district 

Reports said a PDP worker namely Mohammed Jamal resident of Zangalpora Kulgam was shot at his home. 

He was shifted to district hospital Kulgam for treatment where doctors him dead. 

 

An official confirmed  that PDP worker has been shot dead in Zangalpora.. 

“Whole area has been cordoned off and search operation has been launched to nab the attackers,” the official said.

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