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February 24, 2012Catalyst spent the better part of last year busting myth after myth about women and their abilities. Women do ask for raises and promotions, women don’t lack ambition, and we do not get ahead simply by “doing all the right things.” Now, another myth bites the dust. According to new research, girls are as good at math as boys, if not better. In today’s C This, read about the latest news on women and work, including about the study that shatters this long-standing myth about gender and math.

Hi Tech Women

Women dominate social media and are the power users of tech, yet less than 10 percent of California tech company boards and only 9.1 percent of Silicon Valley boards feature women. Some tech firms, including LinkedIn, eBay and Google have sought to close the gap. “We were looking to add people who understand the web of the future and our consumer (50 percent of whom are women), and who are product and tech savvy,” said eBay CEO John Donohoe, explaining the selection of Katie Mitic to their board. “Katie is a 12 out of 10 on these. And, we have a strong commitment to attracting, developing and retaining female leaders. There’s also a cultural impact outside of the boardroom—it’s inspiring to our team members and community to see someone like Katie on our board.”

READ: “Why Your Next Board Member Should Be A Woman,” TechCrunch, 2/19/12

It All Adds Up

A new study in Psychological Science that tested children at 12 primary schools in China found that, on average, the girls outperformed the boys in many math skills, including arithmetic, number comparisons (i.e., recognizing the larger of two numbers), and completing number series. Girls also excelled at judging whether two words rhymed, and researchers believe this may be the key to why some surpass boys at math skills. “Arithmetic and even advanced math needs verbal processing,” said Hui Zhao, one of the report’s authors. “Better language skills could lead to more efficient verbal processing in arithmetic,” he added.

READ: “Girls' Verbal Skills Make Them Better at Arithmetic, Study Finds,” Science Daily, 2/23/12

Media Static

Gender gaps cut across all industries, but they are particularly pronounced in media. In fact, the Women’s Media Center’s new census found that on some fronts, women are going backwards. For example, from 2010 to 2011 women dropped from 20 percent of behind-the-scenes entertainment television roles to only 4 percent. A similar decline of women’s representation occurred in radio. The numbers have been flat, and occasionally reversed, since 1998, despite the fact that women today make up 73 percent of journalism and mass communication grads.

READ: “Media’s Gender Gap: Where My Girls At?” Time, 2/17/12

Gearing Up India Inc

My recent trip to India with Deborah Gillis and Deepali Bagati was a great success—we talked with over 30 business leaders about expanding opportunities for women amid the rapidly growing Indian economy. “The good thing in India is that many corporates have begun to recognize the importance of utilizing its female talent pool and are undertaking initiatives and policies to make professional lives easier for women,” said Deepali in a recent interview, reflecting what we learned on the road.

READ: “Investing in Women is Good Business,” The Hindu, 2/14/12

Just Toot It

In last year’s report, The Myth of the Ideal Worker, Catalyst found that women who were more likely to self-promote were better able to advance their careers, increase their salaries, and were more satisfied in their jobs than women who didn’t toot their own horn. But self-promotion can be tricky—one doesn’t want come off as too boastful, or even worse, as conceited. In this article, Bonnie Marcus gives some tips on how to effectively self-promote and establish credibility. “Take credit for your accomplishments,” she writes, and adds, “Write a blog that showcases your expertise.” Both tips are great, especially the latter! ;-)

READ: “Mastering the Art of Authentic Confident Self-Promotion,” Forbes, 2/22/12