Mathematics Quickie

12Mar09

You’ve probably heard that Smith has a relatively new post-bac program at its Center for Mathematics. Here’s a great blog post by a professor at a large research university extolling the virtues of the program‘s concept:

As a graduate advisor at a large university, I would be very interested in an applicant who had successfully completed such a program. In addition to the excellent experience gained via coursework and research, a student who spends an intense year on such an endeavor has demonstrated motivation and commitment. These are essential elements for success in graduate school, but are among the most difficult things to guess about applicants to a graduate program just based on application materials.

Wouldn’t I be at all concerned that a student had needed an extra year to get ready for grad school and hadn’t known since she was 4 that she wanted to study math? No, I would not be concerned at all. Not everyone knows what they want to do with their life, even when forced to declare a major in college. Not everyone gets the courses they need when they need them. A program like this could well have an impact on the number of women who choose and succeed in math-related careers.

To those who worry that women who receive their training in math or science at a women’s college and who therefore might not be prepared for “the real world”, I will repeat my usual response to this: Do you think women need practice being discriminated against?

If a young woman spends a semester, a year, or 4 years being treated with respect as a scholar, this will make her more — not less — prepared to deal with the so-called real-world.

There’s quite a lot of comments on the post about what a women’s college education can do—What do you think about it? Did a same-sex environment give you a special edge in your career? How did it impact your job searches?

(Thanks to Christie ’00 for pointing this out to us!)

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2 Responses to “Mathematics Quickie”

  1. 1 Amy

    I keep a Dilbert comic in my cube:

    [Dilbert is sitting at a table interviewing a woman]
    If you were hired, what would be your long-range career goal?

    [Woman]
    I’d have your job in six months. In a year you’d be working for me, you big pile of dinosaur dung.

    [Dilbert]
    I see you attended an all women’s college. Does that experience really make you more confident and assertive?

    [Woman, ready to arm wrestle]
    Either arm. Let’s go.

    I have to admit I’m almost a bit TOO confident some days, but it sure comes in handy in “the real world.” The other day I was in a meeting with 12 men who were my peers and I hadn’t actually noticed the lopsidedness in a long time. I like thinking of the obvious benefits of my education from an over-the-top perspective. 🙂



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