Who Is a Math Person? Belonging in Mathematics for Latina and Black Women
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Although women have increased in number in the field of mathematics over the years, there is still a major disparity in the number of Latina and Black women studying and working in the field. To be studying or working in mathematics, however, one must feel as if they are a "math person," or that they belong in math. In this project, I will investigate what influences the sense of belonging in mathematics for Latina and Black women. Some research has been done on how Latina and Black women and girls view themselves in relation to mathematics as well as how many Latina and Black women have studied or taught math. Much of the existing literature regarding these women in STEM centers around ideas of self-efficacy and worries around stereotypes. It is important to investigate belonging in mathematics for Latina and Black women because for Latina and Black women to feel as though they belong in mathematics, they need to feel as though they are represented and welcome in the field. In this study, seven Latina and Black female identifying participants who had considered, are, or were math majors or minors in mathematics at Kalamazoo College were interviewed about their educational experiences in math. I found that belonging in mathematics for the participants was shaped by their family, instructors, and peers because of their identities. This implies that math educators need to make sure that mathematics is accessible and welcoming to Latina and Black women so that they feel like they are a "math person" and they belong.