### "Math is hard"

Mattel got a lot of flack for its talking Barbie doll which said "Math is hard." I wanted to reprogram the voice chips to say "Partial differential equations with Neumann boundary conditions are hard." It's not that I completely disagreed with Mattel, I just thought Barbie should have been more specific. Imagine the conversations: "Mommy, what's a Neumann boundary condition?" "Well you see dear, that's when you fix the value of the derivative on the boundary curve." But then, I've been working on nerd propaganda for decades.

In a similar vein, this reviewer on Amazon assumes the intelligence of the reader:

Anyone who's been around children (or been a child themselves) knows about the "why?" game. It starts out with something like this: "Daddy (or Mommy), why is the sky blue?" So you explain about Rayleigh scattering and the fact that molecules in the atmosphere scatter photons with an efficiency that's inversely proportional to the fourth power of the wavelength. You are hardly finished when the next question shoots across your bow: Daddy (or Mommy) why is there an atmosphere?" So you dutifully explain planetary evolution, the expulsion of vast quantities of carbon dioxide that facilitated the evolution of life forms that exploit photosynthesis, producing oxygen, etc. Then the third question comes "Daddy (or Mommy) why do planets form?" You follow this question with a short lecture on the planetary nebular hypothesis. But the questions don't stop; they just keep coming and coming and coming.I want to live in that world: where one just presumes that, of course when any child asks about the blue sky, their parent will dutifully explain Rayleigh scattering and planetary evolution!

Props to Tara C. Smith for reviewing Danica McKellar's new book, "Math Doesn't Suck" and interviewing the author.

I'd like to show girls that math is accessible and relevant, and even a little glamorous! This society constantly bombards us with damaging social messages telling young girls that math and science aren't for them. I want to show them that yes, math is for them, and my goal was to write an entertaining book that presents math in a fun teen-magazine style, to keep this subject in as non-intimidating and non-stuffy an environment as possible.While on the theme, check out an old Rebecca Eisenberg column, Girls Need Math.

I want to see girls embrace math who never thought they could, and for them to understand the importance of developing a strong mind. Math is a fabulous mind strengthener - it's like going to the gym, for your brain! Most of all, I'm hoping to help girls strengthen their fortitude and feelings of self-esteem through finding the courage to tackle the often-challenging subject of mathematics. I want them to feel empowered; if they can do math, they can do anything!

That's why it comes back to math. Math has no bias. It doesn't come from TV. It doesn't know what you're wearing. Math treats all people equally. Especially when you're in a hard class with all boys, when nobody's cheering you on from the sidelines, when it's not "cool" to be smart, math is a nice thing to have. When nothing else makes sense, math reaches an answer.