Math Mamas: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #6

Reporting from the floor for #4 in this live-blogging series. Carrie Diaz Eaton of Bates College introduced the series. Speakers are Becky E. Hall of Western Connecticut State University, Eaton, Piper Harron, and Eaton read an excerpt from Elizabeth Gross.

Two Math Mamas Tell Their Stories

The name of this talk isn’t quite right, since they have several other math mamas tell their stories. But it’s great! If you didn’t know, I (Yen) identify strongly with this session since I had two kids while getting my Ph.D.

This grass roots group of math mamas grew from a Facebook group and now includes an AMS Blog series, the website and a special July 2018 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, which I personally highly recommend.

Becky read aloud from her JHM article, “My Best Laid Plans”, including this excerpt:

I was lucky to have my own private office to pump, but my pumping sessions weren’t always so private. One day, the custodian started to unlock the door
to my office so that he could empty my trash can. Luckily I heard him struggling with the key in time to detach the pump from my breasts and adjust my shirt. After that, I always put a “do not disturb” sign on my door.

Carrie discussed her research article, co-written with her relative Luz Marizza Bailey: Revealing Luz: Illuminating our Identities through duoethnography. While working on this project, that cousin received a presidential award for teaching! This narrative fights the idea that poor laborer immigrants are coming and draining resources, because both the cousin and the relative who was the focus of the article won huge teaching awards.

Then Piper Harron, who we saw in a fantastic panel yesterday (read my post!), came up and read an excerpt from her piece, On Contradiction, including this:

The only thing gendered about my experience as a parent is the way I’m treated. I would rather think in terms of marginalized parenthood. I’m thinking about parents, of any gender, who have to take care of their children while also fighting to survive in an oppressive world. I’m especially thinking of those marginalized parents who feel fully (not necessarily solely) responsible for their children, particularly those who will be punished for having such responsibilities. These parents have a huge emotional burden that they carry with them wherever they go. Parenthood has, perhaps, nothing to do with mathematics, but it can have everything to do with a mathematician’s ability to succeed in a competitive
environment. Parenting takes time. It takes so much time. All the time.

One person read a hilarious excerpt from Elizabeth Gross’s essay, PB&J.

“Sebastian told me that he only had two slices of plain bread for lunch.” I thought back to the morning. Could it be that I forgot to put the peanut
butter and jelly on his sandwich? Yes, that sounds about right. I sent my son to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no peanut butter
and jelly. I laughed.
“Why are you laughing? It’s not funny.”
“There’s nothing I can do about it now. Literally, the only thing I can do about it is laugh.”

It was a ridiculously lovely session of sharing stories and discussing how adding to the narrative can help us all with this culture.

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