Women in Math: Resources to Help Girls Excel in Math

“Science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going.”

— Nichelle Nichols, Former NASA Ambassador and Actress

There has been a stereotypical myth that boys are better at math than girls, but studies have found that to be untrue. An important first step in debunking the myth is to help girls believe that they can excel in Math and form a positive identity for themselves regarding math skills. As they start increasing their self-confidence, then their willingness to learn mathematical skills will be likely to increase too. 

The following are resources to help girls learn to excel in Math and begin to see themselves as mathematicians: 

  • Math-related literature: Reading is a wonderful way to increase overall knowledge and learn from the experiences of others. This is a great opportunity to inspire girls with biographies of women who have used math to make the world a better place. These can include women from previous centuries and those currently using math skills to have positive impacts on our world. One suggestion is “Women Who Count,” by Shelly Jones. It is a great collection about African American women in mathematics. Check out books and educational resources related to space exploration by visiting the Katherine Johnson Foundation. Share about other women mathematicians like Hypatia, Sophie Germain, Emmy Noether, Ada Byron Lovelace, and many other incredible women who have made notable achievements. 

Add other math-related literature to your classroom library too. A web search will help you find books geared toward the age and reading level of your students. A few general recommendations are “The Math Olympian” by Richard B. Schwartz, the “Bedtime Math Series” by Laura Overdeck, and the “Math Inspector Series” by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever. 

  • Math mentors: Students can benefit from mentors working with them one-on-one or in small group settings to improve their math skills. This can encourage them to have a more positive mentality about math. It can increase their self-confidence as they improve their understanding and skills. Conversations with their math mentors can help students realize the diverse opportunities to use mathematical skills in everyday life and future careers. As the mentors get to know the students better, they can recommend actions for them to follow to use their preferred math skills to reach their fullest potential. For mentoring resources, visit the Association for Women in Mathematics
  • Math competitions and scholarships: Motivation to help girls excel in math could be increased with math competitions. Look into opportunities for them to be part of the USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS), Math League, or Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools. Students can also apply for scholarships to help with the costs of summer programs and college courses. Having specific goals for improving their math skills can be a great way to encourage them to work to excel in math.
  • Online math programs: These programs allow students to work at their own pace. Those that are STEM-based or team-based can help break barriers and increase confidence for students in Math. Similarly, for girls who are excelling in Math, programs such as Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS), allow them to continue their love of Math by participating in fun STEM activities with others.

Be sure to check out ORIGO’s Supplemental Resources to meet the specific learning needs of your girls. These resources provide opportunities for them to practice various skills in small-group and independent settings. 

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