For many years, women have been underrepresented at the highest levels of math contests. There hasn't been a female USA IMO team member since 2007. There hasn't been a female USAMO winner for years, and in over 30 years of Mathcounts, there hasn’t ever been a single female Mathcounts champion. If you pick 30 people at random, the chance that none of them are female is less than one in a billion. And on and on and on …
What are some problems that face girls? There are many, but Athemath is most concerned with the lack of a female math community. While math itself is typically a solitary activity, for many competitors there's an intrinsic social aspect of math. We depend on our friends for advice on what to study, for motivation to work harder, and for support after failures. Math success doesn't happen in a vacuum.
But girls miss out on this.
Most of the time, we're the only girl on our math teams. The only girl on the math club. We room alone at all the contests, because there’s no other girls on the team to share a dorm with. And being a girl just makes it that much harder to be part of the all-male math team that’s been together for years, especially at an age that a lot of people struggle socially. Moreover, because there’s so few of us, we’re bombarded with unwanted attention and rude comments. We don't feel like we fit in, or that we belong with the math community, or that there's anyone to ask for help or support, and so we start dropping out.
With our classes, our goal is two-pronged. First, we’ll be providing top-notch math contest tutoring to young women at a low cost. Our instructors will be distinguished contestants, including olympiad qualifiers/winners, Math Prize for Girls winners, or other similarly-qualified women. All instructional materials will be reviewed.
What makes our approach unique is an emphasis on community-building. During a three-month class term, six different social events will be held, most of which will be math-related—such as friendly competitions—that encourage all the women to get to know each other a bit better. In addition, we’ll have a virtual hangout space for both students and teachers to participate in. We’ll build a community of math girls, young and old, amateurs and veterans. We don’t have to be alone anymore.
Who we are
We are a 501(c)(3) Arizona non-profit corporation, although our operations are entirely virtual. We were incorporated in August of 2020. Our founder, Ali Cy, is a member of the 2020 US European Girls’ Math Olympiad team. She was inspired to create Athemath after witnessing the pervasive lack of girls at higher levels of math contests and talking to her peers about the problems that women in contest math faced.
Our first class session is scheduled to start in March of 2021.