Hollywood is not known for providing a wealth of positive female role models. Danica McKellar
, the actress that played Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years and Elsie Snuffin on The West Wing, has written a math book for teenage girls. 'Math Doesn't Suck' is done in the style of a teen magazine.
Each chapter includes clear explanations that make manipulating numbers sound easy. "A reciprocal of a fraction is found by flipping it upside down. If you want the reciprocal of a mixed number or a whole number, just convert it to an improper fraction, and then flip it!" or "Going back and forth between percents and decimals is very easy. All you need to do is take away the % sign, then move the decimal point two places -- that's it!"
The book includes horoscopes, testimonials, cute doodles and quotes from girls. Word problems are brought to life with descriptions of lipstick, beads, cookies and similarly girly examples that might make the feminist in some women cringe. In the interview below, McKellar explains why being a math whiz and a girly girl are not mutually exclusive. Wired News spoke to her by phone from her home in Los Angeles.