With a focus on experimentation and calculation, Girls Get Math introduces students to math concepts not often included in the traditional high school curriculum. Head of faculty Katharine Ott, who has organized the program since 2014, hopes it can demonstrate how learning math can be exciting and fun to boost girls’ enthusiasm for math and science at an age when they often start to lose interest and trust.
“We’re trying to show students a side of mathematics that they don’t get to see for a long time, and unfortunately, by then, they’ve already lost interest,” said Ott, an associate professor of mathematics. at Bates College. and member of the ICERM education advisory board. “We want to demonstrate different kinds of math—places where you can be super creative and collaborative, and where the problems are endless. It’s a 180 from what many students encounter in their math classes.”
Emerson Maccarone participated in Girls Get Math as a rising sophomore because she was eager to find new opportunities to flex her math muscles outside of standard algebra and geometry classes.
“When you’re going through school, they don’t necessarily show you how math concepts apply in the real world,” she said. “Girls Get Math gave me that real application that was missing in the classroom. They helped me realize that I can do a lot with a math degree, from engineering to modeling, and that’s why I continued to pursue math and realized that this is what dua. to do in college”.
Today, Maccarone is a math major and business minor at Villanova University and plans to work in finance on Wall Street after graduating next year.
Keeping students like Maccarone and Siegel interested in math early in their high school careers is critical to closing the gender gap for women in science, technology, engineering and math, program leaders say. While the number of STEM careers continues to grow rapidly, women still hold less than a third of those jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mathematical skills are also vital for other professions where women are underrepresented, including banking, finance and business.
ICERM Director Brendan Hassett said Girls Get Math’s mission is to introduce a range of career opportunities in which sophisticated mathematical ability plays a key role.
“It’s important for us to be proactive in doing what we can to break down those barriers and bring as many people into this work as possible,” he said. “This has huge implications for science and technology, but math is also important for making sense of data and making policy decisions. It’s important to make sure everyone has access to these skills.”
To help expand access to Girls Get Math, ICERM created a model program for high school STEM teachers and college or university faculty to implement the curriculum in each of their schools. Girls Get Math is now a program offered at nearly a dozen institutions, including Boston University, University of Rochester, Colorado State University, Stonehill College, University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Michigan at Dearborn.
Siegel and Maccarone returned to [email protected] this year, held August 15-19 at the ICERM state-of-the-art mathematics facility in Providence, to speak with students and volunteer as teaching assistants. The two graduates will serve as important mentors and adjunct lectures alongside other career role models and scientific experts from the field. When reflecting on their time in the program, the two favored the fun atmosphere and sometimes silly moments playing games and solving puzzles alongside fellow students, whom they still consider close friends today. In returning, Maccarone said he hopes to create the same fun and motivating community for the next generation.
“I never would have thought in high school that I would be a math major in college and looking for big finance jobs,” she said. “Girls Get Math gave me the confidence to realize that I am talented and that I can continue to pursue this and be successful. I hope that I can pass that message on to the girls in the program this year so that they can stay always confident in their abilities. and never give up.”
[email protected] is funded through grants and donations, and the 2022 program is co-sponsored by the American Mathematical Society and Mathematics for America. The JetBlue Foundation provided support for hosting programs in other countries.