Mathematics and Education

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Session on the Participation of Girls and Women in Mathematics at the Joint Meetings

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Background. This series of talks will focus on the participation of girls and women in mathematics, and what can hinder or enhance it. Some speakers have documented and analyzed the participation of women and girls, others are engaged in projects that enhance their participation.

Here are some relevant statistics. (For discussion of other frequently used statistics (some incorrect), see “Statistics about Women in STEM” and “Rumors of our Rarity are Greatly Exaggerated.”) In the United States, women are:

since 1980, over 42% of bachelors degree recipients in mathematics and statistics (National Center for Education Statistics 2009, details and discussion here)

49% of AP calculus AB examinees (2010 College Board report)

42% of AP calculus BC examinees (2010 College Board report)

51% of AP statistics examinees (2010 College Board report)

31% of PhD recipients in mathematical sciences (2010 Annual Survey of the Mathematical Sciences)

29% of tenure-track mathematics faculty members in 4-year educational institutions (National Science Foundation/Division of Science Resources Statistics, Survey of Doctorate Recipients, 2006)

27% of assistant professors in mathematics at the top 100 US departments (Nelson 2007 Diversity Survey, Table 11)


Far fewer US women participate in competitions such as the International Math Olympiad. But, worldwide, women are between 24% and 0% of top-scoring IMO teams. (See “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving,” Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 2008.)

Although the 2005 CBMS survey reported that women were 9% of all full-time tenured faculty in PhD-granting mathematics departments, women received only 4.8% of American Mathematical Society scholarly awards during the last decade. Similar discrepancies exist for scholarly achievement awards from the Mathematical Association of America, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and American Statistical Association.

Among the authors of these studies are two of the session speakers. The talks are listed below. Click on titles to see abstracts.

Math Anxiety: From Teacher to Student. 
Sian L. Beilock, University of Chicago.

Gender Differences in Mathematics: Facts from Recent Data. 
Janet E. Mertz, University of Wisconsin–Madison and 
Jonathan M. Kane, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. Note their January 2012 AMS Notices article and UW press release on this subject.

Girls’ Angle: A Math Club for Girls. 
C. Kenneth Fan, Girls’ Angle.

Progress and Persistent Barriers for Women in Advanced Mathematics. 
Patricia Hale, Cal Poly Pomona.

Is STEM Still Just a Man’s World? Awards and Prizes for Research in Disciplinary Societies Go Mainly to Men, Despite Growth in Women’s Participation. 
Alice B. Popejoy, Association for Women in Science, and 
Phoebe S. Leboy, Association for Women in Science. Relevant articles are in AmStat News and SIAM News.


Written by CK

October 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

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