Listen to Women in Math

I recently came across a great podcast called Women in Math. It was recommended by my calculus teacher this term, Noella Grady. She offered a few points of extra credit to anyone who listened and responded to an episode. Rather than limit my response to that assignment, I thought I’d post it here. Anyway, here are a few things from episode 26 (which features a conversation between two students) that stuck out to me:

The production quality is great. At first I expected that two students in front of a microphone would be boring or awkward, but it really wasn’t. It sounded like they had a couple of good prompts and then just took the conversation naturally from there. There were a few awkward silences between questions, but I felt like that just added authenticity. I was also surprised at how pleasant and easy the conversation was. Neither student was trying to impress the other or appear better at anything. Frankly it’s hard to imagine a similar conversation between two men being quite as laid back.

I felt like the subject matter was specifically tailored to me: one student was a computer science major, the other math. One wanted to become a teacher. These are the areas I’m preparing to teach, so I felt like I could really identify with both of them.

I found it illuminating to hear the guests’ perspectives on what it’s like to be a woman in math classes. It’s funny that they are so often outnumbered as students, because I’ve had far more female math teachers than male. Perhaps that’s just because women are overrepresented in education to begin with. Anyway, it’s a good reminder to think about things from other’s perspectives and to give others (especially those who are demographically outnumbered) a chance to speak.

My first degree is in anthropology, which at the school I attended was a program with about two women for each man. While it’s peanuts compared to what women experience in STEM fields, I’m not totally unfamiliar with being “outnumbered” in the classroom.

One thing I like about this podcast in general is that it gives me some guidance on how I (as a white man) can bring up the people around me without making it about me. I love that the producer of this podcast, Damien Smith, creates it without needing to make it all about him.

So, that’s the podcast. I’ve only listened to one episode so far, but I’ve added it to my feed and plan on becoming a regular listener. You should too!