International Day of the Girl was October 11th- late is better than never?

27 Oct

This Day of the Girl thing started two years ago.  I remember that Google Chicago was having an event for it, but I did not attend.  I feel like I remember very clearly the things I choose not to do, but I have a remarkably bad memory for the things that I actually do.  For instance, I have a friend I visit every time I go to San Francisco, but I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen him.  At least once, but I probably didn’t nap and sleep and have coffee and have dinner and have breakfast all at the same time.  He remembers each interaction quite clearly though.  So I’m an asshole.

Anyways, this post isn’t supposed to be about me.  I’m a woman now, suckers!  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been incredibly lucky in the educational opportunities I’ve been given: Project PRIME which no longer exists, but is similar to this program for 4th-7th grade girls interested in mathematics in the Twin Cities (I learned about spherical geometry when I was 10, at a Saturday workshop!), UMTYMP where I took the standard high school math curriculum during middle school and was subsidized by the state of Minnesota, great calculus courses at my high school where we got college credit, and the opportunity to take several more college courses across the street at CSUF while I was still in high school (for $3.50 each course, if I remember right).  And of course I won the lottery that is getting into Yale, and I studied abroad for math, and did some undergraduate research, and taught some math, and got into grad school, and was encouraged to go, and the point is that I’ve been very lucky throughout my life.  And very few people are this lucky.  And very, very few girls are this lucky.  That’s my take on Day of the Girl.

Here’s a company’s take on Day of the Girl:

Currently, 36 percent of high school students within the United States are not ready for college-level sciences. Misha Malyshev, CEO of Teza Technologies works with nonprofits to curb that number. International Day of the Girl is a great time to celebrate the women in this field, and every field, and recognize the opportunities allowed to girls.

Day of Girl

I’ll try to follow the suggestions of the infographic (this company randomly emailed me and asked if I wanted to see it, and I said yes, and that’s how it’s on the blog now).  In that whole educational bio paragraph up there I embedded all the math programs I was part of.  Here in Austin, girlstart is pretty amazing and in this department we have a Saturday Morning Math Group as well as an occasional Sunday Math Circle.

So yeah.  Girls are cool.

A few nights ago I went to dinner with a few postdocs and another graduate student.  This was remarkable because we were all women!  We traded war stories and discussed our experiences as women in math, and it was so so nice to interact with people who had similar experiences to mine.  Every school I’ve been to has a women in math-type group which usually is open to men joining in as well.  This sort of supportive community helps lots (not all) women grit our teeth and stick to it.  And we’re women!  When we were girls we were so much less confident and self-assured, and (some of us) needed a guiding hand or supportive push to keep us in math.  I really really appreciate all the help I’ve been given/earned throughout my life, and I think everyone deserves at least a chance to do what they love/figure out what they love.

Related old post.

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3 Responses to “International Day of the Girl was October 11th- late is better than never?”

  1. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen December 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    About the women in math type group that is open to men: how do you feel about this? I’ve always been hesitant to get involved in such groups, especially because in a gender-imbalanced field there’s a possibility of the group becoming *mostly* men which would (IMO) definitely be bad.

    • yenergy December 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      HELL YES get involved. I’m all about men joining women in math groups. Sure, that’s a possibility but it has never happened in my experience and I doubt it ever will happen (and if it did that still wouldn’t be that bad if the men were focused on actually helping women in math). Women can’t fix women’s issues alone- men need to get involved to increase visibility (and funding etc.) I really encourage men to go to women’s conferences, be part of women groups, etc. (wherever they’re welcome of course; I’m part of a FB moms group that doesn’t allow men for various reasons) because it viscerally allows you to feel the way women feel all the time (like a minority)

      • Anschel Schaffer-Cohen December 16, 2015 at 3:08 am #

        Hmm that makes sense. It’s not quite the same but in Boston there used to be (maybe still is) a POC kink group that started to have mostly white people, and then eventually *only* white people. It was pretty bad and maybe it scarred me.

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