There has to be a better way to learn math

Cally Chisholm

Women comprise two thirds of the engineering department at Missouri Southern–a highly unusual and notable occurrence. 

I am pursuing this this topic because I am very passionate about women’s equality and was inspired by the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11.

I was overcome with curiosity about the students who are breaking stereotypes here on campus and the faculty who are training and teaching the next generation of builders, creators, innovators and leaders.

It peaks my curiosity as to why there aren’t more women pursuing careers in these fields.

The real issue boils down to getting a solid math framework as a young child. The problems go far beyond interest and personality.

Dr. Claudia Wilson brought this up in our interview and it really struck a chord with me. I’ve struggled with math for as long as I can remember, I wish that I could go back to my younger days so that I wouldn’t feel so far behind others in the subject.

I wish that I could’ve qualified for that Algebra 1 class in eighth grade instead of waiting to take it in high school. I wish that the curriculum didn’t change when I moved from Tennessee to Missouri.

I wish I didn’t have to take an Intermediate Math course my freshman year of college just so I could pass College Algebra.

While I did find academic fulfillment elsewhere, there is that part of me that pokes at my insecurities when I see others excel in basic activities involving math.

For example, knowing how to make change may seem like a thoughtless act, but to me it turns my head to a tizzy trying to count in my head and when you add decimals to that– don’t expect me to have an answer any time soon.

This may seem like I’m excuses, and I admit cognitive dissonance did play a part in it.

I learned a valuable truth in my interview with Wilson, and it applies to reading or learning a language. A solid math curriculum is essential to ensures every student can succeed no matter what career she (or he) pursues.

Given the chance to excel in math at an age younger than 14 or 15, I truly think that the makeup of STEM fields will change.