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Even today, many areas of the world maintain the contrived notion that women don't possess the DNA to excel in mathematics, This gendered stereotype creates an obstacle for female students before they've even had a chance to delve into math studies. The first barrier to overcome in Girls' Math Club is low self-esteem, said Gabriella Lora, Calculus Roundtable's Special STEM Project Coordinator. The Girls' Math Club (GMC) program utilizes a unique curriculum, designed and brought to life by female mathematicians of color to combat outdated ways of thinking and get girls excited about careers in STEM.
Students meet weekly during the school year or participate in the summer program, and engage in team-building icebreakers, competitive online games with their friends, and receive one-on-one homework recovery. Jeni Williams, teacher and Calculus Roundtable Curriculum Developer, stated that the girls' attitudes towards math at the beginning of the program were often negative or indifferent, as math in public schools relates strictly to what's being tested. Calculus Roundtable is forging a new path by making math relevant to students' daily lives, utilizing their personal interests in the "problem of the day" and applying math concepts to higher learning and future careers. When decimals, fractions, algebra, physics, mixed equations, and number theory help students prepare for college, acquire scholarships, graduate, and reach their goals, math becomes a useful tool, not just a challenging school subject.
Carina Huerta, one of Calculus Roundtable's Instructional Coaches, was able to help several GMC students struggling with their geometry homework by relating the math problems to real life examples. One memorable student developed a love for statistics and financial literacy after discovering their roles in psychology, the field of study she was most interested in. Instructional Coach Deanna Walter also witnessed groups of elementary school girls who initially hated math later come to appreciate it during their time in GMC. The experience of leading GMC has been really rewarding, Deanna shared, "When I was in middles school and high school, I didn't have the opportunity to have a safe space to learn and talk about math. I believe being able to provide a safe space for young women is important to help keep their interest in STEM."