By Jessica Stamp
Discrimination and lack of diversity are the most common problems women in the mathematics and sciences fields encounter. However, the Association for Women in Mathematics at Youngstown State University comes together to support, encourage and promote equal opportunity and treatment of women in these fields.
Alyssa Leone, junior astrophysicists major and president of AWM, said the group helps support women in math and is made up of math majors and anyone supporting the cause.
“A lot of people underestimate what we can actually do. I think the hardest part is showing that we do know what we are doing,” she said.
There are two advisers who assist Leone in AWM.
Alexis Byers, mathematics professor and an adviser for AWM, said she offers help to Leone by giving advice on how the association should be run or if advertising is needed.
What Byers sees the most with women in mathematics is the lack of support.
“Women are not as encouraged so much to go into [mathematics]. I think there is some kind of bias there that women necessarily are not encouraged to do it,” Byers said.
She said because of the bias issues, lack of representation and lack of confidence, women have a harder time than men picturing themselves in the mathematics field. Despite these problems, there has been a growing number of women joining the field.
Alicia Prieto, mathematics professor and second adviser of AWM, said there are many things women can do with a mathematics degree.
“Most of the time women lack confidence or they don’t know what to do with a math degree. A lot of women really like math. They just have been told that they’re not good because they are women or that all they can do with a math degree is teach,” Prieto said.
Both Byers and Prieto said they’ve worked in groups alongside men, but when they’ve voiced an idea they were talked over and ignored. Furthermore, they said one of the men would give the same idea and everyone in the group would praise the man and give him all the credit.
“Women are overlooked. Nobody really knows how to act with a woman in the room,” Byers said
Byers and Prieto are working to get grants to help them get more minority students involved in math.
“[We] have a lot of ideas to increase diversity with people of color and stuff like that,” Byers said.
Currently, 36 women are members of AWM.