Three Characteristics of Feminist Mathematics Classrooms

By Elizabeth A. Burroughs and Jessica M. Deshler.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many young women turn away from STEM career paths at important transition points, particularly in the first year of college mathematics. We explore the application of feminist teaching principles to a first-semester calculus class as a way to engage more women students. We chose the feminist principles of investigating social issues through mathematics, explicitly addressing motivation, and addressing mathematical authority in the classroom. We examine how to include these facets of instruction as a supplement in undergraduate mathematics mixed gender classrooms. For this design phase of the project, we tested the feasibility of implementation and measured students’ response to the materials. Analysis of participants’ survey responses indicates students respond positively to the modules, and student attitude measures show a positive shift in motivation. Classes in the project covered the same amount of mathematical material as those not participating; there was no difference in students’ final grades. Participating instructors report implementation of materials is straightforward. The modules on the socio-cultural usefulness of mathematics and on motivation are developed and ready to be implemented in other classrooms seeking to promote gender equity. We continue to pursue strategies that promote students’ mathematical authority, including video self-modeling.

Keywords: Feminist Teaching, Mathematics, Utility Value, Mathematical Authority

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.13-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 392.047KB).

Dr. Elizabeth A. Burroughs

Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA

Dr. Jessica M. Deshler

Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA