Numbers Struggle, or How I Am Different From You

The Horror of  The Exams: Writing & Calculating 

I have been studying business / accounting for the last two years after six years of journalism and communication studies. Although my very first degree was accomplished in my mother tongue, my second masters and currently going bachelor degrees are in English, making me wonder if I am in fact registering all the information better, worse or any different at all. Additionally, I am now studying with mostly males which takes up to 98% of all the students.

Interestingly, while preparing for my exams I’ve noticed that most other students were petrified of theoretical subjects’ exams whereas I absolutely dreaded any maths involving tests. When talking to other students in the course, many told me that with math, accounting or finance they knew exactly what to expect in the exam or how to calculate, solve, approach the task. Theory subjects are totally unpredictable, according to many males (and often females) business / accounting & finance students I have talked to.

A boy struggling with writing an essay

In order to pass a theory based exam, many students where trying to memories what they studied. I have always been using the same approach with numbers related subject since elementary school. Subjects like business (theory based ones) or ethics, law or human resource require analytic thinking which I have always called “blah-blah” factor (illustrating how talking, writing & reading dominates in these subjects) which to me often means “I don’t really need to study, I will write something and it will be okay”. When studying business / accounting subjects, theory units (in my experience; in Sydney) are highly simplified. When I was getting my first masters in journalism (in Russia), “I will write something” on the entire scope of foreign literature starting from early BC times till today’s day is a much harder task than writing a thousand word essay on Qantas HR crises.

For many other students, especially males it was a nightmare! I couldn’t get any sleep before math related exam whereas most business / accounting international students were running around in panic, waiting for a theory based exam.

When preparing for “blah-blah” subjects’ exams I would scan quickly through the course material, making notes here or highlighting there if something appeared be to fairly new information. For example, law subjects would always contain new piece of knowledge; however the rest could have been worked out. Not for the most male business students.

I have always been hopeless when numbers step in. When practising / preparing for an exam, numbers and formulas would not make sense. Memorising would only work in high school. Moving on to higher education made it harder to pass math related exams.

A girl getting frustrated with mathematical equations

Numbers are like worse nightmares ever! I’ve also noticed that even when reading a non-related to numbers book, when I see numbers or percentage symbols or other math related signs I, in fact, don’t read them and often don’t even register unless I really care for the interpretation. My would be something like this: “In 2007 the population of Russia was estimated to be blah blah (percentages) in oppose to the last year’s blah blah which is in fact blah blah more than in blah blah”. Unless, I need to catch this information for some reason I won’t register it. If I need to comprehend the numbers, I would read out loud and several times.

So I was wondering why the heck some people look at the numbers and go “yeah yeah yeah, easy, this is here, this goes there. Done!” and when I look at the numbers I usually think “oh I think I need to call my mom before going home today… Hm, I wonder if I can make this hair appointment for next Thursday… Oh, I think it’s already been ten minutes into this exam… Gee, I am hungry! OMG this dress I saw yesterday, I am so buying it… “, it is never empty in my head but it is never full of number either.

Why I Cannot Do Math and Why Others Cannot Speak?

Well, I am very glad I am half way through “My Women Can’t Read Map and Men Don’t Listen“. I must be honest, I have picked many books of this lovely couple up, flicked through and would often put back on the shelf. This time they definitely caught my attention. Alan and Barbara Pease have been writing, speaking and publishing tones (Well, maybe not literally) of books on body language, relationship, communication and more. The book I mentioned earlier ended up in my hands by accident. I picked it up from my partner parents’ house and sat down to flick through (as always) – I spent half a day “flicking” through and then went home and bought my own copy. The book is amazing! It is very easy, funny and filled with scientific facts explaining how and why males and females are different. I am not talking about social status or some anti-feminism differences (I personally do not give a damn about it), I am talking about different brains, hormones and absolutely different abilities and skills as a result.

I have to drop (for now)  the fact that the international students I was talking about earlier and myself are studying ,using foreign to all of us. However I also want to mention that according to the book, males brain is not very good with speaking or picking language skills up therefore, and I observe it every day, male students struggle with speaking or writing especially using English instead of their mother tongue which ever it is. Additionally, when I was studying journalism in Sydney (also as an international student), my class contained equally of males and females but only a handful number of non-English speakers enrolled in the degree. I found it fairly challenging to study next to English speakers because I could never be good enough or better than them (or so I thought).

Alana and Barbara Pease “Why Women Cant Read Maps and Men Dont Listen”

Now, numbers where not something I had to learn during any of my journalism degrees, However I stepped into the world of finance (don’t even ask why) and this is where numbers is like a piece of bread to a beggar. For me, the worst nightmare ever. According to the book, numbers are related to spatial ability which females are simply not good at. Numbers relate to measuring and working out speed, distance, population etc which is initially was the hunters’ (aka males) job, not females. I know we are in the 21 century now but the human’s brain was wired centuries ago and interestingly has not changed for ages. We have the same brain now, we had since the first human was developed. Therefore the wiring in the brain would not change much.

Blame The Brain!

I understand we cannot blame our brain for everything we can and cannot do; but believe it or not, sometimes it is easier to just find peace with it and accept that we are not cut for all types of work. There are of course women who are very good with numbers but the amount of such (super) women is very low in comparison with males.

I have two masters in journalism, I am a freelance writer and a digital marketer & copywriter; however I am still studying statistics, finance and accounting… I must admit it hurts my brain a lot; and as soon as I complete my degree I hope I won’t get involved with any numbers related tasks ever again. However, remember what I said when was going half way through my first degree “I will never study again!” and I already have educational courses lined up which I will approach as soon as I graduate … my third time 🙂

Women if they really want can become better at “males” skills; however it will take thousands of years to master them. Why not to use “females” skills instead, mastering your career in something much more appealing?! Well, don’t ask me I am about to complete a business degree…

Further investigation:

They calculate amazingly well but cannot work out for almost an hour that the computer in front of them is broken.

Why men and women must colloborate to improve their skills and improve the final outcome?

Can we learn the skills our brain has not learnt? Teach your brain. Re-wire your brain.


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