Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Open Access)
Colby College. Education Program
Despite efforts to increase gender diversity in STEM fields, women remain underrepresented in mathematics, especially in advanced academic and research positions. This study aimed to explore the experiences of female math majors as they attempt to navigate this male-dominated space. Through qualitative interviews with seven female math majors, two female math professors, and a focus group with education majors at Woodbridge College, small liberal arts college in the United States, several common themes were identified that define the experiences of female math majors. The findings suggest that math is held at an elevated status in society and that there is strong sense of gender solidarity within the mathematics department at Woodbridge College. However, women also have an apprehensive identity within the mathematics due to a lack of gender diversity within the discipline. The study also found that female math majors developed strategies to navigate these challenges, including seeking out female mentors and peers, forming study groups, and engaging in outreach efforts to inspire and support other women in math. The findings suggest that fostering supportive and inclusive communities for female math majors could help address the challenges they face and promote greater representation of women in mathematics. This research offers valuable insight into the daily experiences of female math majors and revealed that gender played into feelings of apprehension, but deep internal motivators allowed the participants to continue pursuing mathematics. These findings contribute to the understanding of the experiences of female math majors and highlights the importance of community-building efforts to increase gender diversity in mathematics.
Women in STEM, Mathematics, Education, Experiences
Recommended CitationRosenbaum, Abigail R., "Finding the Common Denominator: Understanding the Shared Experiences of Female Math Majors" (2023). Honors Theses. Paper 1409.