The graduate school experience for women in mathematics
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The Graduate School Experience for Women in Mathematics. National Information Read “Has the Women-in-Mathematics Problem been Solved? Allyn Jackson, Notices of the AMS , August 2004 Nebraska’s Story Before and After Data The environment for women as described by former students.

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The graduate school experience for women in mathematics
The Graduate School Experience for Women in Mathematics

  • National Information

    • Read “Has the Women-in-Mathematics Problem been Solved?

      • Allyn Jackson, Notices of the AMS, August 2004

  • Nebraska’s Story

    • Before and After Data

    • The environment for women as described by former students


Women faculty in mathematics departments
Women Faculty in Mathematics Departments

  • In 1991, Science magazine reported that the “top ten” U.S. mathematics departments had 303 tenured professors – 4 were women

  • 17% of the Ph.D.s awarded in mathematics from 1982 – 1991 went to women

  • In 2004, these “top ten” departments have about 300 tenured professors – 16 are women.

  • 26% of the Ph.D.s awarded in mathematics from 1995 – 2003 went to women


Who awards ph d s to women in mathematics
Who awards Ph.D.s to Women in Mathematics?

  • 20% of the Ph.D. granting departments awarded 47% of all Ph.D.s in mathematics. These 36 (of 178) departments awarded 60 or more Ph.D.s during the 8 year period, July 1995 – June 2003.

    • But only 21% of their Ph.D.s went to women – well below the national average of 26%

    • Only 4 of these 36 departments awarded more than 26% of their Ph.D.s to women

      • Nebraska – 41.3%

      • SUNY Stony Brook (AM) – 31.7%

      • Maryland – 27.4%

      • UC-San Diego – 27.3%


Nebraska’s Story

  • Ancient History:

    • Prior to 1980, 4 women earned the Ph.D.

    • 1980s, 23 men, 0 women earned the Ph.D.

  • Starting in 1988:

    • An emphasis on recruiting women.

    • A new attitude:

      If you create a positive, supportive

      environment in which qualified people

      are expected to succeed, they will.


The results
The Results

  • Change takes time

    • 1 woman received a PhD between Fall 1988 and May 1994

  • Last 9 Years

    • 26 Ph.D.s awarded to women, 39 awarded to men

    • 13 of last 26 Ph.D.s awarded to women


What does it take
What Does it Take?

  • A change in attitude (leadership is important)

    If you create a positive, supportive environment in which qualified people are expected to succeed, they will.

    • “At first I couldn’t imagine why they would have such confidence in me, when I had no confidence in myself, but gradually their faithful support wore down my stubborn streak, and I began to believe that I had the ability to succeed in graduate school.”

  • A critical mass

    • “I have felt at home ever since I came to UNL … because being a female student in this department is nothing unusual … I don’t feel the pressure of having to represent my entire gender as an isolated female in a sea of male mathematicians.”


Comments from former students
Comments From Former Students

  • “It is the consistently supportive, encouraging environment that makes the department a success in all its endeavors to promote women in mathematics.”

  • “The graduate school environment was incredibly supportive, due not only to direct faculty support of students, but also to a strong sense of community among the graduate students. Every graduate student in the program benefits from it.”

  • “The environment in the department was wonderful for both women and men. Having a student body which resembles a random sampling of all people contributed to the positive atmosphere.”

  • “I have two children, and the faculty of the department has always been flexible and understanding when designing my work schedules.”


Reflections from a former chair
Reflections From a Former Chair

What are the secrets to our success?

  • Job 1. We made it a priority to strengthen the graduate program, with an emphasis on recruiting women students.

  • Focus on positive things. We created cash awards for the outstanding first year student, outstanding qualifying exam, outstanding GTA teacher. We provide funds for students to travel to national meetings.

  • A supportive environment. We let students know that we believe they have the potential to be successful and that we want them to succeed.

  • Everyone benefited. By focusing on the goal of being more successful at recruiting and retaining female graduate students, we have, in fact, made our program more successful for all students – male and female.


Two programs to consider
Two programs to consider

  • Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics

    • February 4-6, 2005

  • IMMERSE (An anticipated MCTP award.)

    • Nebraska Intensive Mathematics: a Mentoring, Education, and Research Summer Experience


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