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I would like to know how many African American females hold degrees in Mathematics.

It is often said that minorities are not "good" at mathematics. I am just curious to know how many others have taken the journey I am embarking on successfully. #statistics #women-in-tech #women-in-stem #stem #mathematics

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Victoria’s Answer

Hi Brandy,


I saw your question about a week ago and I wasn't sure how to answer it. I really like Keith's answer.

I wanted to possibly suggest one way for you to think about women and African American women who choose STEM careers.

Firstly, don't let people put you in a box. You have so much to offer to mathematics and STEM.

And look for role models who show that the sky is the limit.


There are three African American women I would like you to read about: three African American women who changed STEM and the course of American history by thinking outside the box. In fact, there is a movie about them that I hope you have seen or will see. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Figures


Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is an African American mathematician and physicist who performed the calculations (by hand) that helped John Glenn, an astronaut, get to the moon and back. She had so many obstacles to overcome, but she loved math so much and believed in her work that she kept going. She is a hero and she is a role model. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Johnson


Mary Winston Jackson also worked as a mathematician and aerospace engineer at NACA and NASA. She was NASA's first African American engineer. She is a hero and she is a role model.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Jackson_(engineer)


Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was an African American mathematician and human computer. She taught herself FORTRAN and she headed the programming group at ACD. She is a hero and she is a role model.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Vaughan


These three women made it possible for you and me to work in STEM.


Genia Wilbourn is an African American engineer today at Verizon who helped prepare Verizon's network for the Superbowl. She uses cutting-edge technology to connect millions of people to each other. She is actively working on technologies that will change our future. And Genia is working in our Verizon Innovative Learning program to inspire girls and young women to go into STEM. Genia is a hero and a role model and her story is included below:

http://www.verizon.com/about/news/im-genia-wilbourn-i-always-knew-i-wanted-be-engineer-heres-my-story

Victoria recommends the following next steps:

Join a club/team/group that supports your interests in mathematics and inspire students younger than yourself because you are a hero to a child who is learning about math :) .
Make a journal of the role models who inspire you and think about them when you are working toward your goal, especially when things seem hard.
Find role models that inspire you and read about them.
Thank you comment icon Thank you. I have seen that movie and those were really encouraging words you offered that I needed to hear. Brandy
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Keith’s Answer

I would suggest you search some government and education-related websites. The National Center for Education Statistics would probably be a good start. The Department of Labor Statistics would be another. It is always good to understand the environment in which you will embark. This will allow you to better maneuver in your career. The more important matter is to follow your passion. If math is it, your impact in the field will ultimately influence others to want to join the field.

Thank you comment icon Keith - Thank you for your answer. We need more advice like this, now more than ever! There are more than 1k unanswered questions on CV right now. Hoping you'll answer a few more this week! Jordan Rivera, Admin COACH
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Akilah’s Answer

Hi Brandy!

I am an African American woman who holds a degree in Mathematics with a concentration in electrical engineering. I haven’t done anything remotely close to as awesome as Ms. Katherine C. Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan. :) They were, however, a huge influence in my pursuit of attaining a degree/career in Mathematics. I was also told in high school that I should consider pursuing a different degree path. But I didn’t allow those comments to stop me from moving forward with my desire. That is one of the greatest pieces of advice I can give you – Don’t let anyone try to detour you, if you truly have a passion to pursue a degree in Mathematics or any STEM path.
I completely agree with Victoria and Shelley’s answers about researching those women in history and their recommendations. I also suggest:
- If possible, visit as many places (museums or attractions) that showcase math exploration and discovery.
- Download apps or games to help enhance your knowledge and enthusiasm towards mathematics.
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Shelley’s Answer

Minorities not being "good" at mathematics is just flat out wrong. The main story of "Hidden Figures" is that minorities have always been good at mathematics, it's just that it has never been promoted in talking about the history of mathematics. This has the result of everyone (including minorities) believing this falsehood.


This is a link to the Association for Women in Mathematics. There is a link for students and a link for careers with a lot of great information.

https://sites.google.com/site/awmmath/info/departments-institutes


Historical information: "Mathematicians of the African Diaspora."

http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/


More history:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African-American_mathematicians


More history:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpID36hRhWE


Here is an article on encouraging black women to join mathematics.

https://www.theroot.com/how-can-we-raise-future-black-female-mathematicians-st-1791134182


Please join us in STEM. :)

Shelley recommends the following next steps:

Look into nearby community colleges and universities for STEM camps.
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Richard’s Answer

Hi Brandy,

I cannot speak from personal experience about this topic, but I do want to note one thing. If you're looking for statistics and numbers, you don't necessarily want to look at the top: CEOs, department heads, etc. because there has historically been so much discrimination in hiring practices, etc. If you want proof that anybody can be 'good' in STEM, look no further than how many young scientists from every background and creed are entering the field. Furthermore, look at how many women won Nobel Prizes in STEM this field!

The future is brighter than the past and when we let the brightest minds enter STEM without artificial and cruel barriers, we're all better for it.
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