Apr 20 2011

pretty girl rock

by keri hilson

among the things i can’t wait for: earning a ph.d in math education.

it’s a (hopefully) well known-reality that both women and poc are underrepresented in the study of mathematics. women of color in the field of mathematics deal with intersecting oppressions. the first openly black woman in this country to earn a ph.d in math did so in 1943. it wasn’t until 2001 that a black woman was published in the premier math journal: the annals of mathematics (sexy title, i know). mathematics is a super white, super male space and there are lots of folks that intend on keeping it that way. it infuriates me when i hear women say “i can’t do math.” i realized that women are socialized to believe that, but still, it kills me when women buy into this. it pains me to hear brown folks say “i just don’t get math.” not to sound like your 9th grade algebra teacher, but math is crucial for the world we live in. the good life requires math. we need to have open and honest conversations about that (and conversations about teaching math in spanish, which actually might carry some linguistic and cognitive advantages, but that’s a topic for another post)

without writing a treatise on living at the intersection of racism and sexism, i’ll say this: i took advanced math in 8th grade and as i walked in my teacher asked me if i was lost. my niece is a perfectly brilliant 9th grader also taking advanced math and her guidance counselor doesn’t even mention to her the possibility of taking the SAT II in math among her SAT II options. wow – hot mess. so among my anecdotal stories, of which the above stories are only a few, there’s a wealth of statistics that make clear that fact that we have a problem not only with women of color in the sciences but also specifically in math. so that’s why i can’t wait to teach elementary school – so i can teach math during writing, recess, reading and lunch (Malika, what does it mean to cut that sandwich in half?). i also can’t wait to be part of the small but growing women of color math phd community.

I CAN do math, and i love doing it. i want my students to see that, learn math and feel confident about themselves as math students. once my long division diddy is done, i’m just writing a song about how much i love math, and of course it’s to pretty girl rock and of course there will be a dance. yep i’m just that type of mathematician :) .

One Response

  1. amandainthemitten

    Nice post! I’m excited to be teaching science to show my fellow females how fun it is and how great we can be at it! I never really thought that I could/ would major in science until I hit college… I want my students to know it’s possible before they reach that point! =)

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