‘Girl maths’: Outrage from a feminist

“You can justify anything with a bit of girl maths.”

I saw this sentence in a well-known Melbourne newspaper just the other day, May 2024. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to reread it a couple of times to make sure I was not imagining things or that I had slipped back in a time tunnel to the 1950s.

The context was an article written about finances and focusing on the issue of giving yourself treats, despite being poor and needing to save. I had no issue with the concept of small treats, and love the occasional matcha green tea Frappuccino (with whipped cream and maple syrup on top), thank you very much. We can’t save every spare dollar in the pursuit of housing dreams. No, my blood boiled at the insinuation that somehow girls were either A) not good at maths or B) that girls somehow were able to juggle a maths equation to fit some nefarious end or C) that any maths girls do is by inference going to be worse than boy maths.

Now, which of those inferences/suggestions do you think the writer was coming from and alluding to? Or was he just plain thoughtless and stupid?

It cast me back to when I was 16 in a year 12 calculus and applied maths class. First day, and the male teacher swept into the room, stared around at the sea of mostly male faces and then turned his glare on me and my best girlfriend, and exclaimed: “What are you two doing here? This is no place for girls!” I squirmed, but we both remained in the class.

Now, if I was as feisty as I am now, I would have entered into a heated debate with the misogynistic male teacher, or even kicked him in the shins, but I was young, unsure of myself and prone to obeying adults in my life. I was fuming underneath, and as you can see have never forgotten the slight against my skills and the assumption that girls are by nature inferior in their mathematical and reasoning skills to boys.

My girlfriend and I outdid the majority of those smug boys in that class when it came to the final exams, but then I gave up a university path in sciences, finding less bias and more wriggle room in the humanities.

What upsets me the most about that comment about girl maths is the ease with which you can crush the spirit of someone with a throwaway line or a gender stereotype, thoughtlessly uttered. We think we have come a long way along the path to equality, with laws passed and the MeToo movement highlighting factors still at play, with a more woke world to navigate through, but then a comment like the above one slips through to mainstream writing and I am appalled.

And this concern is not just aimed at girls, boys can equally be pigeonholed, stereotyped and restricted in what they may wish to do, all with the utterance of a few thoughtless words.

How many of our grandchildren are going to be put down, demoralised and simply not accepted as valued human beings, with the potential to do amazing things? We need to call this out, pounce on it like a tiger and rip the guts out of the stereotypes.

Perhaps the writer would like to justify his comments in other ways rather than accusations of dubious maths skills?

Can you remember sexist comparisons such as this growing up? What were some of the worst you heard? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: My daughter thinks I’m ‘mid-century’


  1. I am a bit confused why you think girl math is so wrong. It’s actually quite a humorous way to justify when purchasing something that is expensive how it actually is “free”. I mean free in the jovial sense because these young girls actually work out, for example the cost of an item, then divide it by use to figure out how little it costs really. Eg. Top cost $75 you might wear it 10 or more times over the year. It only cost $7.50 per wear, now that is cheap. I don’t see it as a sexist comment. I see it as a fun way to justify a purchase. Lighten up, I think you didn’t get the joke about it at all.

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