2016

If you don’t feel like you belong, you’re going to shy away

April 6, 2016

Elaine Beltaos, Associate Professor, Mathematics

IMAGE-Elaine_BI’ve heard stories of little girls being told by their parents to go into teaching, but not math and science—that it’s “not for girls.” I’ve heard those stories, but they’re few and far between. I personally don’t find there’s a struggle with interest anymore for young women entering math and science.

From what I’ve seen in my classes and from my own observations, you can’t make any generalizations. In every class, about five per cent of people are super good at math. They just seem to have that knack and love it. Sometimes those are young women, sometimes they’re young men.

I found in my graduate school there were also lots of young women, and at MacEwan, we have lots of women in our faculty. (Our department is actually about half and half, and I don’t think they’re doing anything to make it so, but I feel that’s because MacEwan has a culture of teaching, and with new people coming in and becoming a university, we didn’t have that baggage from before.)

It’s not so much that women aren’t interested in math. It’s just once a culture is set, it’s set. If you don’t feel like you belong, you’re going to shy away. At the point a culture is set, people just hire who’s like them and don’t think about it.

This story is part of our Portraits of MacEwan series where students, faculty and staff share snapshots of their lives with the university community.

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