Organizing Committee

GirlsGetMath@ICERM is a five-day non-residential mathematics program that is open to high schoolers, regardless of gender, who live in or near greater Rhode Island and who will be entering the 10th or 11th grade in the fall of 2021. (Exceptions made for existing 2020 applicant pool.)

GirlsGetMath occurs in an encouraging environment that builds young students' confidence in math and science.

GirlsGetMath expands participants' understanding and knowledge of mathematics through computations and experimentations.

GirlsGetMath provides expert mathematical training and mentoring.

GirlsGetMath@ICERM encourages 20-25 high schoolers to explore topics such as cryptography, the mathematics of voting, matrix algebra, prime numbers and factoring, and fractals.

The goals of the program are:

  • to show young adults that the study of mathematics can be exciting, beautiful, and useful
  • to build confidence in students' mathematical knowledge through engaging and expert mathematical instruction
  • to provide an affirming environment that introduces high schoolers to a variety of career opportunities in which sophisticated mathematical ability plays a key role
  • to emphasize the strategic role mathematics plays for success in STEM careers
  • to provide the participants with a support group and expert mentors who are successful undergraduate, graduate students, postdocs, and professionals from the STEM workforce
  • to have a positive influence on the way students view their mathematical interest and ability

Image for "GirlsGetMath@ICERM: Summer Math Camp for High Schoolers"
Students and instructors from the 2019 GirlsGetMath@ICERM program.

Program Details

The 2021 program will be abbreviated and offered virtually due to the continuing limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic. The enrollment will be limited to 20-25 accepted students, allowing the lectures and break-out sessions to be more collaborative and productive.
Katharine Ott (the faculty organizer) will be joined by undergraduate, graduate students, and postdocs who will serve as teaching assistants (TAs) during the program.
What to Expect
Each day will run approximately 2.5 to 3 hours and will be hosted on Zoom. Here is the proposed daily schedule, starting at 9:00 AM and ending by 12:00 PM at the latest.
  • 9:00 AM: Fun math activity and lecture (90 minutes, entire group)
  • 10:30 AM: Break-out sessions for math labs to practice lecture concepts (1-2 hours led by 1 TA with 4-5 participants in each room)
A more detailed schedule, including topics to be covered, will be provided prior to the start date.
Equipment Needed
  • Internet connection
  • Laptop or computer
Participant Requirements
  • Students must not have attended a previous GirlsGetMath@ICERM program
  • Students must be in the 10th or 11th grade in the fall of 2021 (NOTE: applicants from the canceled 2020 program will automatically be included in the pool of applicants for the 2021 program; there is no need to reapply.)
  • Students must live in or near the greater Providence, RI area
  • Students must ask one math teacher to submit a letter of reference
We appreciate that working from home makes it challenging to disconnect from personal distractions and obligations. However, we strongly encourage students to participate fully, with cameras on, each day of the program.
The 2021 virtual GirlsGetMath will be offered free of charge to those accepted into the program.
To Apply as a Participant
Apply via You will need to create an online MathPrograms cover sheet, answer a series of brief questions, and hit the "Apply" button. You can edit your application up until the deadline. On the cover sheet, where it says "Reference #1", please enter your reference writer's name, email, and affiliation (school). IMPORTANT: Next to your reference's name, click on the box that says "email notify writer on submit"; this will generate an automated email asking your reference writer to submit a letter on your behalf through MathPrograms. Your reference writer should be a current or recent math teacher.
Application Deadline:
Apply via MathPrograms by May 31, 2021. The faculty organizers will begin reviewing applications immediately after the deadline. All applicants (including from 2020) can expect to hear about their status by mid-June. 
GirlsGetMath@ICERM is made possible solely through grants and donations. The 2021 program is made possible through support from the American Mathematical Society, MathforAmerica, Stephen F. Siegel & Jayne Kurkjian-Siegel, and other private donations.

Purpose of Program

Despite the fact that jobs in STEM are multiplying and pay better than other careers, women remain woefully underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math jobs. Some of this imbalance may be traced back to attitudes about mathematics and sciences in middle school and high school. There is a documented decline in girls’ positive feels about mathematics beginning in middle school, and from this point forward girls are far less likely than their male peers to choose elective courses in mathematics and the sciences[1][2]. The absence of girls in mathematics and science elective courses is especially severe among low-income and disadvantaged students. Research has shown that school-aged girls may not realize that their preferred career choice requires coursework in mathematics and sciences[3], so these decisions can have long lasting consequences.

GirlsGetMath@ICERM aims to build knowledge and confidence in mathematics ability early in education, ultimately shaping the way the students view themselves and their mathematical interests and potential. The program will:

  • Demonstrate through hands-on activities, games, and computer simulations that the study of mathematics can be exciting, beautiful and useful;
  • Introduce the high school participants to a variety of career opportunities for which sophisticated mathematical ability plays a key role, with an emphasis on the central role mathematics plays for success in STEM careers; and
  • Provide the participants with a support group of like-minded peers and mentors.
  • An outstanding feature of the GirlsGetMath@ICERM program is its commitment to quality. The program content is created by Ph.D. mathematicians who collectively have many years of experience as researchers and educators. The content is chosen to be at the appropriate level for the participants, but at the same time challenging, useful, and engaging to high school students. The Faculty Organizers of GirlsGetMath are college and university faculty in mathematics with experience leading summer mathematics programs for students. The Teaching Assistants are undergraduate and graduate students in mathematics and computer science.

[1] J. Blue and D. Gann, When do girls lose interest in math and science?, Science Scope, (2008).
[2] J. Wilkins and X. Ma, Modeling change in students attitude toward and beliefs about mathematics, Journal of Educational Research, (2007).
[3] L. Pettitt, Middle School Students’ Perception of Math and Science Abilities and Related Careers, 61st Biennial Meeting of Research in Child Development, (1995).

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