Fitting women into the equation

Lucy Allen [above] is the president of AWM.Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

By Molly Burke

The Association for Women in Mathematics is an organization that aims to create a sense of community among female math students at Youngstown State University.

Junior integrated math education major, Lucy Allen, is the president of AWM. She said the club’s mission is to encourage women to be interested in math, but anyone is welcome.

“The main mission of AWM is just to encourage girls and women to actively pursue and be interested in the topic of math in school as well as careers in the future,” Allen said. “[It’s] really an association for everyone. You don’t have to be a math major. You don’t have to be a woman. There’s no restrictions to join.”

There is a $10 fee to join AWM and members will receive a mug and cords for graduation. 

In addition to organizing volunteer opportunities, workshops, study sessions, trivia nights and more, Allen says AWM connects students with each other and with professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“[We have] academic and professional meetings where we learn how to use LaTeX and learn good planning skills to be a good student, as well as get some input from the STEM college — what we can do as STEM majors to build our career and prepare for the future,” Allen said.

Those in YSU’s AWM can also get involved with the nationwide non-profit Association for Women in Mathematics. 

“Each year we can give out 15 free memberships to the national [AWM], and that is more just kind of something to be a part of for a resume or just to have those connections of universities all over America,” Allen said.

The club’s vice president is Gabriella Gensamer, a biomedical electrical engineering and math major. She said she joined AWM because women are underrepresented in the math major.

“I decided to join the organization because I honestly love math, but I was getting really sick of being the only girl in a lot of my math classes,” Gensamer said. “It’s such a welcoming environment and anyone who’s looking for that can find it in AWM.”

Gabriella Gensamer [above] is the vice president of AWM. Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

Math professor Alicia Prieto Langarica is the advisor for AWM. She said the club is important because of the lack of female math majors. 

“I teach calculus a lot, and in none of my classes have I ever had more than four or five women in a room of 20 [to] 30 students,” Prieto Langarica said. “In most of my classes, women will not talk very loud, they are more timid … you can tell, in a room of equal representation, the environment is different and that’s nice.”

Prieto Langarica said she faced discrimination working in math because of her gender, so having a community for female math students can help validate unjust experiences.

“Having people that have similar experiences really really helps validate that … it’s always  really nice to have some other woman, some other person like you that you can call,” Prieto Langarica said. “Building that community, and validating that these things happen and then making a plan to change things little by little.”

The next AWM meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in Cafaro Hall room 510. Anyone is welcome to attend, regardless of membership. 

For those interested in AWM, reach out to Allen at [email protected]. For more information and other meeting times, go to the AWM Instagram.