Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Lifestyles

May 26, 2013

Math whiz

Concord student to attend summer math program for women in D.C.

ATHENS —  Concord University student Felicia Stover, 21, will be one of 16 females at a summer program for women in mathematics at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Stovers will take four math classes, learn about mathematical software and mathematical writing and proof techniques.

“It is pretty prestigious,” Stover said. “I am excited. The program will give me sufficient information to make an informed decision about graduate school and careers in mathematics,” she said.

Stovers, a resident of Sandstone in Summers County, is a mathematics comprehensive major. She developed an interest in math at Summers County High School where she participated in Concord University’s Upward Bound Program.

Concord University’s Dr. Lisa Darlington, 37, an associate professor of mathematics, also attended the summer program in 1996. Darlington said it was a new program when she attended, but it was an “eye-opening experience.”

“It was one of the things that encouraged me to go into mathematics in grad school,” Darlington said.

According to Darlington, there are still few women in the math field. While many women enroll in her math education class as elementary education majors, she would love for females to take additional math classes. Only a few math classes separate the two majors.

But she isn’t sure why females shy away from math classes.

“I try to encourage them to try classes that they might be afraid they won’t do well in,” she said.

Stover believes many don’t have a good background in math. She said it can be hard and it is a lot of work. As a female, she never saw any difference between genders during math class. Neither has                                                                                       Darlington.

“ ... I think you need to focus on reaching every student, not boys versus girls,” she said.

She believes separating males and females in math class is not an option either

One of Darlington’s pet peeve is when people say they are not good at math.

“You don’t say you are not good at reading. Part of the problem is we show them how to do something, but we don’t show them why. Try and focus on understanding the concept behind the procedure you are learning and encourage people to not give up and persevere,” she added.

Both Stover and Darlington, a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, said they were among the few who enjoyed math class during their high school years. Stover is excited to get the chance to meet other women who share her love for numbers during her summer at GWU.

Darlington said they have changed the structure of the program since her time in D.C., but the focus remains the same.

“You take many courses in mathematics and they have guest speakers and do field trips that are all math related. It is a lot of fun to talk to people who are enthusiastic about math as you are. That is what made it fun for me,” she said.

According to the Commerce Department, only 24 percent of women have careers in science, technogoly, engineering and math.  

Stover will attend the program June 29-Aug. 3. She is currently thinking of become a statistician, an actuary or a research analyst. Concord graduate and current UNC grad student Amanda Snedegar attended the program last year.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com.     

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