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Womanhood Essay: The Public Scrutiny of Stanford Professor Dr. Jo Boaler

Dr. Jo Boaler
Dr. Jo Boaler

This week, we continue the womanhood essay discussion and return to the higher education context, focused on Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University (14 years), and the public crusade against her publishing record related to the California Mathematics Framework (CMF). Last week, we discussed Candace Owens, Amanda Seales, and Angel Reese, three famous women figures in the mainstream media currently, noting the harassment, public attacks, and degradation of their personhood.


Dr. Boaler's experience is similar in the slanderous, politically motivated nature of harassment and receiving threats to her livelihood. We must continue to illuminate these issues, advocating for women's safety in leadership and positions of notoriety in academia or any other public sphere. As we all witnessed back in December, Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, and Liz Magil, President of the University of Pennsylvania, resigned from their roles due to congressional overreach and the weaponization of political figures in the aftermath of the congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses.


Dr. Boaler has released a statement discussing continued harassment toward her based on her approach to her nationally recognized equitable mathematics teaching strategies, which is in direct opposition to far-right positions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). I want to amplify this story because no matter your political leanings, critical lens, or love of discourse, no one should be subjected to hatred and promulgation by attempts to defame decades of scholarship without any empirical evidence of wrongdoing. She states:


"There will always be differing opinions about educational practices, and disagreement and debate are acceptable modes of reaching consensus. But politicized attacks on the reputations, livelihoods, and safety of researchers, undermine the process of knowledge production and ultimately threatens higher education itself. That really is the central aim of the people behind this campaign."


Dr. Boals notes that the attack pattern from far-right organizations is happening at Harvard to faculty researching DEI. The most disheartening aspect of her statement is the claims related to The Chronicle of Higher Education, who promoted claims against her academic record without doing their due diligence and conducting themselves with integrity in their journalism. We must wrestle with this pejorative rhetoric that has become commonplace in public arenas; clickbait for media outlets and women in leadership are often the targets.


The cancel culture, the alienation, and the ousting of people we disagree with, sinks deeply beneath moral character and level-headed responses to differences. These verbal altercations also happen on baseless claims without any evidence and certainly without any merit. We perpetuate patterns of divisive dichotomies stemming from the political atmosphere and the partisan divides. In doing so, we continue to erode the integrity of the First Amendment and further dissipate the tenets of academic freedom. We naively distance ourselves from the targeted person, believing we could never be put in that position. The truth is that this behavior happens in the workplace, our friendship groups, our family dynamics, and our communities.


We have become desensitized as a culture that preys upon disagreement and seeks to devour those who dare to provide new knowledge in places where routine soundbites win the day. This essay is a written letter of protest to the public misconduct currently occupying our social intersectionality. The message is clear: dissent is expected, but degradation is not. I hope Dr. Boaler uses the fullest extent of her arsenal to combat these claims and salvage her reputation, character, and livelihood amid this continued turmoil.


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Rebuttals are always welcome,


Jade M. Felder

@felderofficial - X








Hi, thank you for your perspective. I do not want personal attacks. However, I do have a problem with her authorship of the California Math Framework (2023). The first version had statements such as, “we deny the cult of the genius" and ‘we reject ideas of natural gifts and talents". The framework recommended zero math differentiation through 9th grade and recommended Algebra to not be offered until 9th grade. The citations included numerous newspaper articles and books, which can contain good information but are not peer reviewed papers and should not be used to justify public policy. Dr. Boaler authored a paper that indicated delaying Algebra 1 until 9th grade resulted in a "lower repeat rate". Mainly because the c…

Replying to

Thank you for this rebuttal, and I would agree in totality, that you should be able to dissent and disagree with Dr. Boaler's methods, framework, and mathematical concepts as it relates to pedagogy. What I would add to this commentary is that often times and historically, mathematics has been "reserved for the gifted" and creating exclusion-based practices and gatekeeping courses where students receive a lesser degree of rigor and engagement should not be our status quo. I believe Dr. Boaler was looking demonstrate an approach that mitigates the exclusionary factors related to mathematics, referring to your quotes above. I also think your dissent is tactful and at face value seems empirically sound. If someone were to "fact check" your findings…

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