Fostering Math Confidence and Diversity in Technology
Last updated on August 27th, 2023
At the beginning of this year, I made some big changes to this blog. The most important was changing the main topic. I shifted away from anecdotes to education around math anxiety and dyscalculia.
I know, I know, there isn’t a lot of that content around that yet.
This is changing starting with this interview on Forbes.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with my friend Hessie Jones on this. Some resources didn’t make it into the final edit. It is important to me to mention a few of them for people visiting from the article.
Organizations Supporting Marginalized Identities in Technology
Sheeva Azma of Fancy Comma
I want to give credit to Sheeva for bringing up the research on Stereotype Threat. This is briefly discussed in the Forbes article. Here is what Sheeva had to say.
My anxiety surrounding Greek letters is part of what’s known as “stereotype threat” – the idea that I, as a woman, am not good at math. So, when I see a concept that looks daunting, I become anxious, fearful that I can’t do math because I am not a stereotypical mathematician type. My solution has always to be to think about my math skills and remind myself that I have taken years and years of math, and that I can solve anything I put my mind to. It’s not always easy to get into this “math-solving” mindset, and I wonder to what extent society’s images of women have contributed to this.
Unfortunately, we know from research that girls are more sensitive to math anxiety. Stereotype threat could be one cause.
Mental Health Support for STEMM
The extra M is for medicine. THRIVE Lifeline is a number you can text if you are in a mental health crisis and a STEMM program. The number is for people with marginalized identities. It is also staffed by people with marginalized identities. From the website:
Please text “THRIVE” to begin your conversation with us 24/7/365, from anywhere: +1.313.662.8209
This is an issue that is very personal to me as someone who dropped out of physics due to a lack of support. Who was too afraid to pursue math because of lack of support. Texting this number when I had doubts might have helped me remain in my program.
I’ve talked to enough PhDs to understand now that poor grades do not reflect your ability to learn. In the beginning, things are difficult but understanding will happen if you stick with it. It is vitally important to keep people from these underrepresented communities in STEMM. It is the only way to make lasting changes in academia.
Check out these posts to read more about math anxiety on this blog.