Here at MIND Research Institute, we believe that every student has the potential to deeply understand, and truly love math.
This statement, a personal favorite, can be broken up and dissected to uncover so much meaning behind our organization-wide belief.
But unpacking it would require its own blog. So, to put it simply, MIND believes that math is for everyone.
That alone gives me so much hope. Hope for myself, hope for students everywhere, and hope for our world.
For me, it means that everyone including the underserved and underrepresented communities like women are more than capable to pursue and succeed in STEM-related fields and careers predominantly held by men. Although there are so many reasons and barriers for this STEM gap, one thing is certain: it’s not for lack of potential ability.
This is why I think it’s important to highlight and celebrate the achievements and breakthroughs of these individuals that formed their own path towards their own math journey and vision of success. And, what more perfect day to celebrate this than today, Women in Mathematics Day.
What is Women in Mathematics Day?
Women in Mathematics Day is celebrated on May 12th every year and it’s an opportunity for everyone to celebrate women in mathematics all around the world.
The goal of the day is to inspire women everywhere to celebrate their achievements in mathematics, and to encourage an open, welcoming and inclusive work environment for everybody.
You can learn more about the history of “why May 12?” here.
Celebrating Women in Mathematics at MIND
To celebrate, I want to highlight a few women in mathematics that I have the pleasure to work alongside... my MIND colleagues! I admire these women for their personal achievements in math and beyond.
Alyssa Ching is an Education Success Manager. Prior to joining MIND, she was a high school math tutor and teacher for over 4 years, even though her background is in humanities.
When I asked her what her advice is for girls that want to pursue math majors and/or careers, she said:
Go for it! If you are nervous or have doubts, I suggest developing a new mindset. When I first found out I was going to teach math, I was so nervous because I came from a humanities background. As I grew more comfortable, I told students (and myself) to think of math as learning a new language. Anyone can learn a new language, and it’s fun! There is no such thing as being a ‘math person.’ If you are shifting careers but are nervous, realize that your own experiences as a well rounded person contribute to your own unique understanding of math. This helped me come up with different ways to communicate math to my students with special needs.
I love her story because it shows that anyone can be a math person! You don’t need to have studied math to use and appreciate math in your work or everyday life.
Jessica Guise is a Data Analyst. She’s part of the Data and Evaluation team at MIND. They dedicate their efforts to measuring outcome metrics for our ST Math program.
Her work requires her to utilize her mathematics degrees to measure and interpret data plus visualize and create reports. She’s literally doing the math!
Her everyday work in math led me to ask her what her favorite thing about math is. She said,
My favorite thing about math is the different paths people can take to arrive at the same (correct) answer. Our brains have innate math capability and people can find unique ways to obtain a solution. It’s fascinating to compare these differences and gain further insight-even when you got it right, you can always learn more!
She went on to elaborate what math means to her.
To me, math means logic, reasoning, and solutions. It’s always funny to me when people claim math classes aren’t useful in the real world. Math is in everything! Math is the present and the future.
Her appreciation for math is so beautiful and refreshing to hear especially when the focus is often on math anxiety.
Jessica Guise celebrating her graduation from Claremont Graduate University.
I challenge you to ask yourself, how can I improve my mindset, attitude, and feelings towards math? How can I be that positive role model in a child’s life as they’re developing their own math beliefs?
Piia Pehap, like Alyssa, is also an Education Success Manager. Her higher education studies at New Mexico State University led her to receiving her Masters degree in Mathematics K-12 Education.
She shared this with me,
Math was always fun, even when it was hard. I like to solve and figure things out, find new ways to make sense of things; make connections to the world. In my youth I didn't have any female mathematicians to inspire me probably due to the fact that it was and still is a male dominated field. My dad and one junior high math teacher were my greatest influences when I was younger. I had a few female classmates that I worked with too. As a professional Mathematics Educator I have many friends that are accomplished female mathematicians that inspire and challenge me on a daily basis.
Her math journey signifies that despite the lack of representation in STEM, women can persevere, succeed, and be trailblazers for future generations.
Nina Wu utilizes her degrees in mathematics, visual art, and education to create new math experiences for students as a Content Development Manager. I’m always amazed at her creativity. Her most recent endeavor is MIND’s newest series called Developing Our MathMINDs that focuses on supporting families with learning at home.
Nina’s path, like many women, has not been straightforward. When recalling her time in college she said:
In hindsight, I don’t think I realized how demoralizing it was to withstand the constant barrage of messaging that math was seemingly a masculine domain. I think what got me through it was finding community, ‘my people’, which were the two other women math majors in my classes. I think a strength and merit that women hold is our penchant to build community. We supported one another, studied together, and went to office hours together. I definitely could not have finished the degree without them.
It’s important to recognize that a strong support system is essential to overcoming the challenges and barriers of pursuing a STEM degree, especially when you’re faced with different obstacles than your male peers.
For Nina, making math equitable and accessible by all (women, people of color, low-income, everybody) is a personal mission.
I use that to fuel my greater mission in making math more accessible. As women who practice and love math (with or without a degree!), our very existence is changing the landscape and narrative of who math is for.
Nina’s personal story and mission inspires me (and I hope it inspires you too!) to keep advocating for our underserved and underrepresented communities. Together we can make a positive change for the future in education and beyond.
I invite all of you to participate in the celebration by sharing your own math inspiration.
Using the template below, tell us: Who inspires you in math?
Don’t forget to share on your social media channels using the hashtags: #MINDResearch, #WomenInMath, and #May12WIM.
I hope this small gesture can show the world that math is indeed for everyone!
Interested in learning more about how MIND Research Institute is helping close the gender divide in STEM? Visit mindresearch.org today!
Or, read one of the following stories to see first-hand the work we’re doing with local nonprofits and schools, including Girls Inc. of Orange County to encourage, inspire, and support girls (and boys!) in math.