22 July, 2006
The GENDER Puzzle.
Chess and gender always gets a heated response.
For those who don’t know chess has, historically, been dominated by males. And the obvious question is WHY?
A GOOGLE Search on the topic will return 2,600,000 responses- some which I’ve included below.
Without getting embroiled in gender warfare, I’ve noticed some interesting observations- completely untested- in my own classes.
Last year, I had a predominately male yr9 maths methods class (16males, 4 females) where the boys would BEG to have chess games/tournaments during class time. They would salivate and engage in battlemode of the highest order.
Of the 4 girls, one was a good player, one had never played, and two were indifferent. When they played together (chose not to play with the boys!) they had a co-operative approach, naturally sharing strategies and working much less competitively.
One girl wasn’t the slightest bit interested in playing and continued with maths ‘from the book’. I asked her why girls seemed less interested in playing chess.
And, her response was a classic!
She shrugged her shoulders: “Girls have got better things to do with their time.”
This is interesting when we compare attitudes with my yr7 class: boys and girls seem equally keen to play chess. There doesn’t seem any obvious gender difference and these are the comments we are hearing from primary school sessions.
The implications, and questions from this are interesting.-
1) what happens, hormonally with the onset of puberty, that effects interest in chess, and perhaps other areas of maths development?
2) if chess has the benefits we think, it must be important to introduce it as early as possible.
3) are girls being disadvantaged if they haven’t been introduced to chess pre-pubescant?
4) is there any correlation between girls who complete VCE Maths, and those who have been exposed to chess.
There are many aspects to this fascinating topic. If you have any anecdotes, theories, or ideas, please let us know about them in our comments section.
Before you find the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.