Women in Science House Living Learning Community (WiSH) members are pictured above with advisors Dr. Lindsay Jamieson (far left) and Dr. Elizabeth Leininger (center with black/white scarf) of St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Girls love math too

St. Mary’s City – Many people mistakenly assume that girls are not interested in math and science, but this is far from the truth. Statistics show that 74 percent of girls show at least as much interest as boys in these disciplines. Women in Science House Living Learning Community (WiSH) is a prime example of just how interested young women are in math and science. Members of WiSH LLC are students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland located in St. Mary’s City who are interested in promoting women and girls in math and Science.

WiSH has been a ‘Living Learning Community’ at St. Mary’s College for approximately 10 years. Many members are women who are math and science majors, but WiSH is open to students of any major and gender. Neuroscientist and WiSH Co-Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Leininger told TheBayNet.com “Students live together in WiSH to support each other in their studies and run outreach activities on campus and in the community.”

“It’s so important that young girls learn that it’s OK to be interested in math,” she said, “what we’re trying to do is prevent and avoid the stereotype that girls do not belong in a STEM field.”

WiSH members work collaboratively through organized committees and building supportive relationships. “Students are also given the opportunity to meet several times during the semester for tea with professors. This encourages the great opportunity for students to get to know their professors outside of the classroom,” she said.

“Outreach work is accomplished through committees that meet regularly,” said Leininger. One of their outreach programs, Math Girls Day was in jeopardy of being discontinued due to a lack of funding, but the program was saved by a generous financial supporter. Math Girls Day is a day-long event hosted by WiSH, designed to engage local middle school girls in hands-on math and science activities. Mathnasium located in California announced in Dec. 2016 their plan to provide permanent financial support for this important day-long event.

“The Math Girls Day Program is a perfect fit for Mathnasium community outreach and we are thrilled to be the program sponsor,” said business owner Kama Friedman. Mathnasium is a customized math tutoring service designed to help develop math skills in young learners. Mathnasium teaches kids math the way that makes sense to them through experienced tutors and customized techniques.

Leininger said, “WiSH LLC is deeply thankful to the Mathnasium for their generous financial support of Math Girls Day. Promoting excitement for math and science are goals that WiSH and the Mathnasium share, and we are so excited that they have stepped up to help us spread this excitement in the local community.”

Between 30 and 70 girls participate each semester, Leininger told TheBayNet.com. “Girls are recruited to Math Girls Day from their math teachers. We send an invitation to teachers to nominate girls to participate,” she said.

During this day-long event, middle school girls not only engage in hands-on math and science activities, but they get to experience it on a college campus. “The girls will hear a lecture by a distinguished speaker, typically a faculty member at St. Mary’s. They also get a taste of college life by meeting college students, such as the WiSH members and eating at the dining hall, etc.” said Leininger.

Participant feedback has been consistently positive. Approximately 40 percent of our participants had previously attended a Math Girls Day. We take this high returning rate as a sign that the program is engaging and beneficial to them,” she said.

“With the support of Mathnasium, we can continue to provide this engaging program for local girls,” said Leininger.

The next Math Girls Day is scheduled for the Spring.

*Photographs courtesy of WiSH LLC of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Contact Shertina Mack at s.mack@TheBayNet.com