A Crisis Among Smart Girls and An Unlikely Answer
New Story Collection Spotlights STEM
We face a crisis.
Our girls drop out of math in droves between the ages 12-14.
A dramatic gender gap exists at all levels of science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM — all over the world.
The gap is significant and has been there for years. “It’s of paramount importance that we have as diverse a workforce as possible,” said Katie McCormick, the director of product for Seattle-based Promethean. “Girls and women, at this point, only make up 28% of the STEM workforce, and that’s not enough,” McCormick added.
Now, an unlikely party would like to help.
Author and English teacher Tom Durwood offers two new collections of YA fiction filled with math-empowered heroines. He hopes to challenge and intrigue young female readers, just at the age when they wander off the STEM path.
The books’ titles are difficult: “The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls” and “The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls.” The math is real.
And who are ‘the Geometry Girls’?
They include Isoke, who uses geometry to oppose a vicious Queen of the Benin. We also meet Simone, a candy-striper with an urgent need to find the flaws in a German tank’s design. Baker’s Apprentice Jayani gambles on her own math skills to save her beloved Third Aunt. Shawnee Smith shows a daring plan to a famous leader and finds a surprising reception.
Each story introduces the real-world application of mathematics — probability, Bayes Rule, financial modeling, codes and ciphers, Lanchester’s Law, and more.
For the right reader, the rewards seem genuine. Two of Durwood’s books were cited on Julie Sara Porter’s Best of Year list (Bookworm Reviews). Fellow author Jeannine Atkins writes, “Stories, mystery and math go well together… a welcome addition.” Adds Tanzeela Siddique, Math Teacher: “Exceptional … family drama disguised as adventure.”
The need is real. A recent survey conducted by Microsoft of 11,500 girls
across several countries in Europe found that “young girls gain
interest in STEM subjects at age 11 and then lose it again by age 15.
That’s a very small window of time to get girls excited about math and science,” according to journalist Shahrzad Warkentin.
Next up for Durwood is a “Botany Girls” collection, followed by “Aviation Girls.” Every collection will feature a Rupa story.
Five math teachers explain the mathematics behind Tom Durwood’s ambitious “Ruby Pi” adventure stories.
Five basic math topics – Geometry, Bayes’ Rule, Algorithms, Data and Analytics, and Probability — are broken down in essays, problems, and solutions. The teachers each explain from where the mathematics derived, and why they are important in today’s world. Tom introduces each topic and sets it in the context of the stories.
For advanced YA students ready to take on higher math, as well as adult readers who are intrigued by the adventures and want a deeper dive.
These new tales of coming of age and mathematics are part of a trend towards narrativizing STEM ideas like Bayes Rule for our young adults. Check out free excerpts at www.themathgirls.com