Throughout history, the study of mathematics has been traditionally male-dominated, but recent initiatives are encouraging more women to join the field. This is, at least in part, due to the steadily declining number of mathematicians in general.
Experts have questioned how to combat the recent drop of math professionals in the United States, and the overwhelming response has been to recruit women to the field. In order to do that, girls and women must be educated in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM.
Several initiatives have begun to offer STEM support for females of all ages, ranging from specialized math and science programs in secondary school to college and graduate scholarship opportunities for aspiring mathematicians and scientists.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, men constituted over 90 percent of college graduates in the 1970-1971 academic year. Today, women are the majority gender in post-secondary education, accounting for approximately 60 percent of yearly bachelor-degree recipients. Yet the most-specialized, and consequently most highly-paid, professions in the STEM fields continue to be led by men.
As the cost of attending colleges and universities continues to rise dramatically, financial barriers pose an even greater threat to the incorporation of women into mathematic careers that require a high level of education. As a result, a number of scholarship opportunities geared toward increasing female presence in these fields have been made available.
American Association of University Women Fellowships
The American Association of University Women has worked for more than 130 years to promote economic and educational equality for women. The Association provides a Selected Professions Fellowship for women to pursue graduate degrees in mathematics and other STEM fields. For the 2010-2011 academic year, they awarded 22 fellows with a total of $350,000 for their studies.
Women pursuing master’s or first professional degrees are eligible for awards between $5,000 and $18,000. Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents and enrolled as full-time students during the award year.
The selected professions are those that traditionally include a disproportionate number of women. Acceptable programs of study include mathematics or statistics, engineering, computer or information sciences and architecture. Women of a minority race are also eligible to apply if they are studying a field in which they are underrepresented, such as business administration, law and medicine.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Scholarships
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM, is a professional organization dedicated to the pursuit of quality mathematics education. NCTM offers two scholarship opportunities for those who wish to pursue a career in math education.
Each year, the Prospective Middle School Mathematics Teacher Course Work Scholarships provide one junior-level, full-time math education student with an award of $3,000 to be used for educational expenses during the subsequent academic year.
NCTM also offers Prospective 7-12 Secondary Teacher Coursework Scholarships for current sophomore-level students to receive funds to be applied toward their educational expenses of the next academic year. One scholarship is presented per year and can be up to $10,000 in value, presented in $5,000 increments during the student’s third and fourth years of full-time course work in secondary math education.
Applicants for both scholarship programs must be student members of NCTM. The application requirements include a written proposal detailing the student’s demonstrated academic achievements in the area of math and math education, an essay on the student’s desire to become a teacher of mathematics at their chosen grade level, and academic, professional and personal letters of recommendation.
Intel Corporation Scholarships
Each year, the Intel Corporation hosts an Intel Science Talent Search, which gives high school seniors the opportunity to compete for more than $1.25 million in college scholarship money.
In order to apply for an Intel Scholarship, students must conduct an original research experiment in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics subject and submit their work for the competition. Out of the approximately 1,600 entries Intel receives each year, 40 finalists are chosen. Each finalist is provided an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. and will have the opportunity to meet with United States government officials and leading scientists.
Applicants must be American high school seniors. The grand prize is a four-year scholarship to an accredited college or university of the winner’s choice. All finalists in the competition will a scholarship of some denomination. The scholarship award amounts are as follows:
- Grand prize is $100,000.
- Second place prize is $75,000.
- Third place prize is $50,000.
- Fourth place prize is $40,000.
- Fifth place prize is $30,000.
- Sixth and seventh place prizes are each $25,000.
- Eighth, ninth and tenth place prizes are each $20,000.
- The 30 remaining prizes are $7,500 each.
Siemens Foundation Scholarships
The Siemens Foundation is sponsored by the Siemens Corporation, an industry leader in electronics and electrical engineering. Each year, the Foundation provides more than $7 million to initiatives that promote the advancement of STEM education.
The Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology is an opportunity for students to compete for a number of scholarships. The competition is open to United States citizens who are currently enrolled in high school. Participants may be either high school seniors or a team of two or three high school students in any grade.
Students or teams must submit a project in the fields of mathematics, engineering, or biological or physical sciences. Up to 300 submissions are selected as semifinalists, and of those up to 60 will be chosen as semifinalists in one of the six regional competitions.
As many as 10 applicants or applicant teams will be selected to compete in each of the six regional finalist competitions. Each regional finalist wins a $1,000 scholarship. The regional winner wins a $3,000 scholarship. If the regional winner is a team, a $6,000 scholarship prize is divided equally between the members.
The winners of the six regional competitions move on compete at the national stage. In the event that the winners are part of a team, the scholarship is divided equally between the members. Award prizes for the national competition are as follows:
- First place prize is a $100,000 scholarship.
- Second place prize is a $50,000 scholarship.
- Third place prize is a $40,000 scholarship.
- Fourth place prize is a $30,000 scholarship.
- Fifth place prize is a $20,000 scholarship.
- Sixth place prize is a $10,000 scholarship.
Hertz Foundation Fellowship
The Hertz Foundation is geared toward providing financial support to exemplary PhD students studying in the STEM fields. Since 1963, the Foundation has supported over 1,000 scholars with more than $100 million in fellowship awards.
Applicants for the Graduate Fellowship Award undergo an application and interview process. Selected recipients of the fellowship must choose from one of the Foundation’s designated tenable schools to carry out their studies.
The yearly award includes full tuition payment and a personal stipend of more than $30,000 over a 9-month period. The awards are renewable for up to five years, depending on the length of time it takes the student to complete their studies.
Math for America Fellowships
Math for America is an organization aimed at improving public school mathematics education at the secondary school level. In order to promote math teacher education, Math for America provides financial support in the form of fellowship awards. Potential applicants have three fellowship options, depending on what stage of their career they are in.
The Math for America Fellowship is a five-year program open to prospective mathematics teachers who are either recent college graduates or mid-career professionals. The fellowship provides up to $100,000 in financial support in addition to a full-time teaching salary for one year of teacher certification education and four years of service teaching math in a public high school setting.
The Math for America Early Career Fellowship is open to applicants who are current public high school math teachers. The award consists of stipends totaling $70,000 over a four-year period. This fellowship requires a four-year commitment to teach in the New York City public education system.
The Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship provides an opportunity for teachers who have taught math for a minimum of four years to gain financial support in addition to their regular salary. The Master teacher program is available in the United States cities of Berkeley, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego and Washington, D.C. Awards for this fellowship total $60,000 in stipends, which are paid over the course of a four-year teaching commitment.
National Defense Scholarships
The National Defense Education Program sponsors the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program. College and university students currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate STEM-field program are eligible to apply.
Applicants must be willing to participate in summer internships at designated Department of Defense research facilities and willing to commit to a term of employment with the Department upon graduation from their chosen academic program. Scholarship recipients will be awarded full payment of tuition and institutional fees, a textbook allowance, a personal expense stipend, health insurance reimbursement, paid summer internships and employment placement after graduation.
Department of Defense Fellowship
The United States Department of Defense offers graduate fellowship opportunities in an attempt to increase the number of professionals trained in STEM subjects relevant to military operations. In 2012, the Department will award 200 three-year fellowships to qualified applicants looking to pursue a doctoral degree one of several designated math or science fields.
Applications for the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowships are to be submitted online and must include:
- Personal information and academic status.
- Educational background and intended area of study.
- Any prior publications, presentations, awards or honors received.
- Research, leadership and teamwork experiences.
- Professional and academic memberships and certifications.
- Volunteer work and community involvement.
- Contact information of references.
- Official GRE scores and transcripts.
Department of Homeland Security Internships
The United States Department of Homeland Security sponsors a 10-week summer internship program for college students in their junior and senior years of study in homeland security-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The program awards $5,000 to each intern, to be paid biweekly over a 10-week period. Each intern student is also provided one-time transportation between their home and designated research facility. Interested students are to submit an application to the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and recipients are chosen by the Department of Homeland Security.
Government and School-Specific Grants and Scholarships
In addition to the numerous mathematic scholarships available by application, there are government grants and school-specific scholarships for women at all levels of post-secondary education. Government grants are often need-based, which means that recipients are determined by financial need rather than academic qualification.
This type of award does not require a rigorous application process, but students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid through the governmental student aid website. Many colleges and universities also have a number of privately-funded scholarships and grants available to their students.
It is not usually necessary to apply specifically for this type of funding, as most schools regularly review the financial aid needs of incoming students and award this type of aid automatically. No matter what a woman’s educational background or financial need may be, there are many opportunities available for those interested in pursuing a college education in mathematics.