Study Will Focus on How to Increase the Number of Women in Graduate Mathematics Programs

walkerJudy Walker, the Aaron Douglas Professor of Mathematics and interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is leading a new program designed to increase the number of women in mathematics, particularly at the doctoral level.

The initiative, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, will support a pilot project to research existing programs and to develop new educational models that support women in math. Dr. Walker will work with colleagues at three prestigious liberal arts colleges that have programs in place that have been successful in guiding women to advanced graduate programs in mathematics: Pomona College in California, Smith College in Massachusetts, and Carleton College in Minnesota. The goal is to examine how these programs have been successful and to develop strategies to make them work on a larger scale.

Professor Walker states that stereotypes about women’s math abilities, societal pressure and a lack of role models and peer groups contribute to the historically low numbers of women math professionals. “If you take an isolated woman or member of a minority group and put them in a situation where people don’t think they’re going to succeed, they probably won’t,” Dr. Walker said. “You need a culture that supports their success if they’re going to succeed.”

Dr. Walker joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 2006. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois.

Filed Under: STEM Fields


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