Either as a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, or faculty member, I’ve been teaching math to college students for nearly 25 years. Dating back to the start of my teaching career, I have always made substantial use of group work in my courses.

To guide students through experience of collaborating, I always give students group work instructions. I’ve recently been pondering these instructions and realized that they are lacking. They’re too procedural, they’re dry, and they don’t give students anything to aspire to.

I recognize that some students like group work and some (likely MORE) despise it. Regardless, I think that…

At the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (QSIDE), we use the vanguard of math, data science, and computation to promote social justice. We became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2019, which makes 2020 our first full year of operation. As the year wraps up, we need your help.

Why should you help us? Because we are making a difference. With the collaboration of scores of fabulous partners and interns, here is merely a sampling of what we accomplished in 2020.

(1) Exposed the ways that privileged white male power tries to protect itself in…

I live in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a town of about 8,000 people in the very northwest corner of the state. The north border of town touches Vermont and the west border of town touches upstate New York. On the surface, we’re a progressive place. It is a college town occupied overwhelmingly by Democratic voters. There are a fair number of Black Lives Matters signs up. People are nice. Usually. However, Williamstown was founded by Ephraim Williams who was, among other things, a slaveowner. From that founding onwards, this town has not been diverse and it has not been inclusive. …

I am a mathematician. Being a mathematician is a funny thing. When I tell people what I do for a living, they typically respond by telling me either “I used to be good at mathematics!” or, with an inevitably disapproving tone, “Oh. I hate math.” Regardless of society’s opinion of my job, the challenges and opportunities of human existence increasingly require quantitative tools. Math helps us build efficient power networks, create effective medicines, develop intervention strategies to support public health, animate movies, understand the workings of the human brain, and much more. Though mathematical tools are pivotally important for society…

If any readers do in fact know of recent, detailed statistics on faculty in the mathematical sciences who come from excluded racial/ethnic groups, please contact us at qside@qsideinstitute.org to let us know. Thus far, no one has been able to provide such information to us.

If you are not in the mathematical sciences, and even more broadly, if you are not in academia, questions about diversity in the field might seem like inside-baseball-type stuff. They are not. Diversity in mathematics matters for everyone in this country. And even more specifically, diversity of faculty in the mathematical sciences matters. …

Chad M. Topaz

Professor, data scientist, applied mathematician, social justice researcher and activist, nonprofit leader. See www.chadtopaz.com and www.qsideinstitute.org.

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