On Women in Mathematics Day, meet these inspirational female math leaders.
It’s a tired stereotype that girls aren’t good at math, but sadly we still sometimes hear students say it.
We’re here to change that!
Women in Mathematics Day is May 12, in honor of Maryam Mirzakhani, who was born on this day in 1977. She’s the only woman so far to have won the top award in mathematics, the Fields Medal. But she surely won’t be the last.
While we at Carnegie Learning provide solutions in multiple subjects, such as math, literacy, and world languages, our first love was math. And from day one, our math instructional design team has been led by female math educators who are driven by the firm belief that every student is a capable math learner—including girls!
Here are three women in mathematics education to show the girls in your classrooms and communities that they do have a place in mathematics-related fields. They might just be the next Chief Mathematics Officer at an education company or even the next Fields Medalist.
Deidre is a 6th grade math teacher in Texas, has 1.4 million followers as a math content creator on TikTok as @the_mrskelly, and is one of our MATHstream instructors.
I’m from San Antonio, Texas, and one of my aunts was my chemistry teacher in high school. I noticed the relationships she would build with her students, where they would come to her for advice about school or life. She inspired me to get into education, and I always loved math, so it was easy to choose what subject to teach.
What I find most rewarding about my work is my students. I love teaching concepts that are used in the real world so students can understand the world. I love the lightbulb moments, the growth, the setbacks that make for comebacks, and the relationships I build.
One of the most rewarding things is the moment a past student reaches out to me to tell me about their life and how I’ve made an impact on them. It makes me wonder how many other students I can make a positive impact on, and it makes this job so much easier for me.
We can encourage more women and girls to pursue math-related fields by empowering them and giving them role models that are also in the field. To our female students, I want to say, keep going! Don’t get discouraged. Find your why; find your purpose.
Phonisha is the Middle School Math Specialist at Spring Independent School District, and she shares replicable successes from her middle school math program in the video series Off the Page Tuesdays on our accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Growing up, I wanted to be in the medical field because I always had a love for math and science. As we know, oftentimes, life gets in the way and God has different plans. In 2010, I began my career as a 7th grade math teacher at Claughton Middle School in Spring ISD, and since then, I’ve taught all three middle school grade levels, was an interventionist and instructional coach, and today I serve as the Middle School Math Specialist.
One thing that motivates me is to lighten up the path for our teachers and coaches. I’m always pushing myself to make sure professional learning is always engaging and relatable. I stretch my creativity so that our teachers don’t have to sit through something they’ve already seen or find absolutely boring.
Deciding to become a teacher is not for the faint of heart. Being a middle school math teacher takes a special kind of person, and if you decide to embark upon 7th grade math, you’ve secured your spot in heaven!
It’s important to highlight the work of women in math—education, engineering, medicine, science, and corporate America. Our girls need to see our success but most importantly, they need to see themselves in the work we do in math-related careers.
Just this morning as I walked into a 4th grade classroom preparing for testing, a little girl asked me who I was. When I told her what I do, she said, “So you really do all of the middle school math?” She saw me. Maybe she saw herself in me. I may never see her again, but she saw me, and that’s enough for me.
Yirah Valverde, Ph.D.
Yirah is Product Manager, Mathematics (6-8) at Carnegie Learning and served as a District Leader in the border region at El Paso, Texas.
I was born and raised in the northern region of Mexico. I migrated to the U.S. at the age of eighteen for my undergraduate studies under a scholarship for highly distinguished students. I entered the field of education because of my love for children. I graduated with a doctorate degree in Teaching, Learning, and Culture with a specialization in Math, Science, and Technology.
I take pride in the work that we do here at Carnegie Learning because we are equalizers in a world that is filled with disparities. I have the privilege of working alongside some of the brightest minds in our country. We believe in research, excellence, and collaboration. We work tirelessly to create high-quality instructional materials that will empower all teachers to become the best teacher—leveling the playing field for all students.
My message to our young girls is: Math is for everyone and everyone can be good at math. The journey is not always easy, but with perseverance and the right guidance, it is certainly possible. Long live math!
Happy Women in Math Day!
As we celebrate Women in Mathematics Day, we’re inspired by women in math education like Deidre Kelly, Phonisha Hawkins, and Yirah Valverde. The future is bright with tomorrow’s leading mathematicians in such hands as these.
Let’s continue to give girls the confidence and opportunities to pursue their dreams in mathematics!
Amy is passionate about researching and writing about urgent topics in education to help educators stay up-to-date on the best practices. As a former teacher of English writing, EFL, and ESL, she is dedicated to supporting educators and students.Explore more related to this author
We are equalizers in a world that is filled with disparities.
Yirah Valverde, Ph.D.