Category Archives: equity and inclusion

Personal reflections from the 2019 JMM- Yen Duong

When I first met my husband, he had just attended the wedding of his ex-girlfriend of six years.  He told me about that unsteady Sliding Doors– type feeling during the toasts and comments about the bride, because he knew all of those inside jokes and funny quirks that make her so lovable (and she is great!) It’s a “that could’ve been me” feeling- not a “that should be me”, but just, if the sun came out a minute later one day or the toast wasn’t burned another day or you had stopped to talk to that student, everything could’ve been different.  That’s an approximation of how I’ve felt at these meetings.

Hi! I’m Yen, professional writer and JMM 2019 blogger and also math Ph.D. An old REU friend I hadn’t seen in ten years asked me yesterday what piece I am most proud of, and I told her it was this one in the Notices:

So, true to form, I’ll write about my innermost personal thoughts in a public forum. Read more »

A Dream Deferred: 50 years of Blacks in Mathematics

I had the great pleasure of being present for Edray Goins’ MAA Invited Address, “A Dream Deferred: 50 Years of Blacks in Mathematics”, Thursday morning from 9 to 9:50am. This talk was a beautiful combination of history and mathematics, and a great reminder that however far we think we have come, the reality is that Black mathematicians are still vastly underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. (Full disclosure, Edray is my friend, he is a fellow Number Theorist, and he even was a fellow blogger at my other blogging home, the inclusion/exclusion blog).

Edray Goins. Photo by Kate Awtrey, Atlanta Convention Photography.

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Quantitative Literacy in the age of alternative facts

“It’s not false, it’s just an alternative fact.” Kellyanne Conway (sort of).

Who remembers this quote? OK, I admit I don’t remember it perfectly myself, but it’s close enough. You can watch this video on YouTube if you want to see the birth of this now ubiquitous term.

So what is the responsibility of a math educator in this new world of alternative facts? That is what Kira Hamman and Dave Kung addressed in their joint guest lecture for the Quantitative Literacy SIGMAA, “The power of quantitative literacy in the era of alternative facts”.

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LATHISMS: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #7

Hi folks. I’m tired. This is the last talk in the series. Gabriel E Sosa of Amherst College is talking about:

LATHISMS: showcasing the contributions of Latinx and Hispanics to the mathematical sciences

Gabriel talked about his experience in graduate school and awakening to the fact that there weren’t that many well-known women in mathematics. He talked about Noether, and enjoying this poster by the AMS of women in mathematics:

Gabriel kept the audience cracking up with his relatable story of how he ended up creating the LATHISMS program, which involved a TurboTax commercial and hanging out with new friends. LATHISMS stands for something like LATinxs and HISpanics in the Mathematical Sciences.

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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.

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Undergraduate Research as an Equalizer: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #5

Alicia Prieto Langarica of Youngstown State University, who also co-organized this session, started her talk by telling us that she wouldn’t use the words “diversity” or “equity” or “Latinx” etc. and challenged us audience members to think about why she wouldn’t be using these words.

I’m a little frazzled right now because I live-blogged the last two talks and I ran off to see a friend talk in the HBCU session, but his flight was delayed so then I ran back to go to this session.  Alicia is trying to push the audience into talking and interacting and it is delightful.

Here are posts #1 and #2 in this series:

MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #3

MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #4

Undergraduate Research as the Greatest Equalizer

She opened with a series of statistics: about half of the people who intend to be math majors end up dropping out, and about 10% of math B.A.s end up going on to get a math Ph.D. (but not really, because the number of math Ph.D.s also includes international students. So the actual ratio is much lower.)

If the math major is preparing students to be academic mathematicians, then of course students won’t major in math. But people in industry do want mathematicians and students who can think logically and mathematically competently and who can translate real life problems into math problems, who have communication skills who can work with others.  So how can we mathematicians help students prepare for careers in industry, by using our tools of mathematics research?

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Facing the Mirror: Acknowledgment in our Practice: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #4

I had some technical difficulties and we’ve unfortunately lost the first few minutes of Aris Benjamin Winger of Georgia Gwinnett College, who co-facilitated the program in the last post. I remember that he discussed creating a safe space to talk about race and equity and mathematics on campus as well.

Facing the Mirror: Acknowledgement in our Practices

In his talk, Aris called out the audience (in a good way) to acknowledge our own biases and our own fraught histories with racism, sexism, and treating students in a disparate manner.

We don’t get to pick how people show up in front of us. We don’t get to pick our initial reaction to them.

Aris showed us a slide of three different people, a black man, a white man, and a black woman in six different outfits and styling.

“We treat people differently based on how they look,” he said. “We treat people who are white differently from people of color.”

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Equity in the Mathematics Classroom: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #3

Good morning JMM!  I’m blogging this morning from this great diversity session, moderated by Pamela Harris of Williams College, Alicia Prieto Langarcia of Youngstown State University, and Chat Topaz of Williams College. I missed talks #1 and #2 this morning, but I’ll be here for the rest of the session.

Equity in the Mathematics Classroom

Michael Young of Iowa State University talked about equity in the K-12 classroom. With his Designing for Equity by Thinking program, they worked in Pittsburgh Public Schools, which are over 70% black students and over 70% white teachers.

We narrowed in on race, we narrowed in on mathematics throughout the entire project.

The purpose of the project was to decrease the opportunity gap: they wanted to educate the teachers about groups of students who didn’t have the same opportunities as their peers. Michael talked about how this project helped him as a parent, a community member, and a teacher personally as well.

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Association for Women in Mathematics Panel Discussion, “Promoting Inclusion in Stem”

Talia Fernós started off this great panel with lively introductions of Autumn Kent, subject of a Q&A by Evelyn Lamb, Piper Harron, provocateur postdoc (I hope she allows me to call her that) and author of a straight fire thesis who also writes for inclusion/exclusion, another AMS blog, Pamela Barnett, an English professor at Lasalle University, and Harrison Bray, a postdoc at University of Michigan.  She started us off with axioms from Federico d’Ardila-Mantilla’s  fantastic Notices article about mathematics and a description of underrepresented groups, along with another that she added that I missed: something like inequality exists and is a result of structural things we’ve done?

I went with first names for this live-blogging because I know three of the people on the stage. Sorry for the forced camaraderie, Pamela and Harrison! I hope to meet you two sometime! Also apologies for all the stuff that you said that I missed. I didn’t record, I’m just typing while y’all talk.

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