I’ll be the first to admit — I’m not a math and science person. When I was in fourth grade, I spent hours in school filling my math notebook pages with the phrase “I hate math” repeated over and over. (Lord knows why my teacher didn’t stop me.) And when the Teen Talk Barbie doll came out back in the day, I related to her catch phrase “Math class is tough!”
Maybe math really is tough, and maybe I could never be a math person, but historically, the pattern in our educational system has been for girls to struggle in math and science. Girls find that “math class is tough” in grades K-12 and we often just leave it at that. That’s why I am thrilled to see that this summer’s Upward Bound STEM Access student population is 72 percent female! (By the way, I initially calculated that percentage on my own, but doubted my answer until my STEMmy husband confirmed that it was correct — a classic example of my Female Math Doubt.)
Becca’s recent blog post about the Longest Math Problem Ever is a perfect example of how girls are making their way in STEM studies. She claims that she’s never liked math, and yet she worked her way through a three-page proof!
Witnessing work like that makes me think that a kid like me could have learned to engage with math and science if only I’d had an experience like Upward Bound STEM Access provides. When you’re solving real-world problems, math and science don’t feel like homework at all.
— Charity Thompson Egland, STEM Access Writing Instructor