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Sept. 22, 2008

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – When does one plus one plus one add up to more than 100?

Answer: When women with a passion for numbers have three opportunities to study and discuss mathematics at Smith College through its Center for Women in Mathematics.

Established two years ago with a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Center for Women in Mathematics offers programs aimed at increasing the number of women at the top of the field.

This semester, there are three notable programs for women at Smith – an undergraduate math conference, a junior-year-at-Smith program, and a postbaccalaureate program.

“The idea of an undergraduate math conference is not unusual but we wanted to do one that focused on women,” said Ruth Haas, professor of mathematics and statistics, and founder of the center. “At Smith, students are lucky because they know women do math, engineering, etc. But there are a lot of women undergrads who really want to know they’re not unique – that women enjoy math.”

The center will host its first conference for women in mathematics in New England on Saturday, Sept. 27. Based on the registration numbers, more than 100 undergraduates from throughout the region plan to attend the one-day event, at which speakers will include prominent women mathematicians, female graduate students in the field, and peers.

This year, the center also enrolled its first class of scholars in a junior-year-at-Smith program, through which four undergraduates – women majoring in mathematics at coeducational institutions throughout the country – are studying at the college through the exchange program. The junior year program gives the students an opportunity to conduct challenging research and take advanced courses in an all-women environment.

And, Smith’s postbaccalaureate math program for women enrolled its second class this year – women who received their undergraduate degrees from schools as varied as Yale and Dartmouth universities and the University of Michigan – and are now pursuing advanced study in mathematics.

The women include a practicing lawyer who wants to make a career change and a woman who already has a master’s degree in statistics but wants to delve further into the field, said Haas.

Funded for five years under the NSF grant, Smith’s Center for Women in Mathematics capitalizes on the college’s success in graduating women who go on to earn advanced degrees in the field. Ten percent of Smith’s math graduates enter graduate programs in the field as compared to 3 percent of women from coeducational institutions.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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