Girls-only competitions build confidence—and the ranks of women in math

October 27, 2017

Gretel Kauffman

At first glance, it could have been just another math exam at MIT. But the Advantage Testing Foundation’s Math Prize for Girls contest, held in September, had some key distinctions: Participants competed not for grades, but for $31,000 in cash. None had yet graduated high school. And, as the competition's name would suggest, all were girls.

A sense of both competition and camaraderie permeates throughout the annual Math Prize for Girls event, one of a number of all-girls math competitions aimed at righting the deficit of women working in math and other STEM fields.

“So many of our participants share the story of being the only girl on their schools’ math teams,” said Arun Alagappan, co-founder of the Math Prize for Girls, in an email to the Monitor. “We want to give these girls the opportunity to thrive in an environment in which their sense of belonging is never in question.”

Girls-only competitions build confidence—and the ranks of women in math