Since 2009, the Advantage Testing Foundation has offered the largest math prize for girls in the world. The Math Prize for Girls rewards talented young women of all backgrounds for their mathematical skills. Every year, nearly 300 talented young mathematicians take our exceptionally challenging, 2.5-hour test of mathematical analysis, creativity, and problem solving.
Overwhelming interest in supporting the AT Foundation Math Prize for Girls has reinforced our belief that prizes recognizing top female students in mathematics are long overdue. Following the success of the first two Math Prize for Girls contests at New York University’s Courant Institute, MIT formally partnered with the AT Foundation to host the annual competition.
Our twin goals are: 1) to promote gender equality in mathematics by rewarding talented, high-performing female students, and 2) to underscore the importance of mathematics to our nation's future.
While math competitions in the United States are generally diverse undertakings, drawing students from myriad ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, they remain dominated by male students.
The United States continues to perform poorly in mathematics when compared with other nations. In recent international studies, math scores of U.S. students have been among the lowest of all industrialized countries. By contrast, in Singapore, a nation that routinely ranks highest in international studies, girls outperform the boys. Our contention is that by working toward gender parity at home, the U.S. can place itself on much stronger footing internationally.
Research has shown that negative expectations from parents, teachers, and society as a whole can have a tremendous damping effect on a young woman's interest and ability in mathematics. Our objective is to reverse that effect. Just as sports competitions encourage physical fitness, so can math contests inspire problem-solving skills. Beyond developing future mathematicians, our broader goal is to identify and encourage the young women who will become the scientific, mathematical, and intellectual leaders of their generations.