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INTEGIRLS Engage in Mathematics

By Divya Bharadwaj | Posted March 28, 2024


STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as a field has been growing with new advancements in various fields of study. With the development of generative AI, electric vehicles, and biological advancements comes a new wave of interest in the field. However, a consistent discrepancy is being observed: the gender gap. In many censuses for 2023, the STEM workforce was found to be sparsely made up of women. Reasons for this trend include stereotypes placed onto their capabilities, lack of resources, and lack of encouragement.


From left: Sargam Mondal of Edison, Minhe Liu of Montgomery, Chloe Kim , Angie Liu of Montgomery, and Jennifer Tian of Montgomery.


However, at group of high school students in the metropolitan area, including Montgomery Township, have sought to challenge this conclusion. Their organization, INTEGIRLS aims to create a safe space for young girls where they can learn math and take part in competitions.


When asked about the origins of the organization, Ada Huang from Edison Academy Magnet School, who is the financial director for INTEGIRL’s and its parent organization Lovelace Math Circle, explained, “most of us have seen that girls participate less than boys in competition math and we want to close that disparity. “In many cultures there’s this conception that girls aren’t as fit for STEM as guys might be, and we want to dismantle that notion.”


Angie Liu, the organization’s senior director and a student at Montgomery High School added to the observation that girls are absent in many competitive spaces. “Personally for me, when I’m in [competitions], I don’t feel very comfortable and I want to hang out with other girls,” she said. “We want to create a community where everyone can feel included."


Stemming from their own personal experiences and from common misconceptions concerning women in STEM, INTEGIRLS’s members aim to focus on making the field of mathematics a more inclusive space for young girls. Liu said, “when you learn about these [STEM] concepts and how they all connect, you have so many “aha” moments, so more people should be more open-minded to give math a try instead of thinking it’s boring and always related to school.”


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While discussing highly competitive settings in math and trends that are observed, Christina Wang a student from West-Windsor Plainsboro High School North and INTEGIRLS Chapter Head conveyed that “as you get to the olympiad level in competitions, it’s pretty much all boys.” Wang also attributed this pattern to the stereotypes that are in turn created about female participation.


To reverse the trend of male-dominated competitions, INTEGIRLS was formed with the goal of creating a space for young girls who can get exposure to active participation and success in a field that is in the process of becoming more inclusive for women worldwide.


INTEGIRLS will be hosting a math competition for elementary girls on Saturday, April 20 from 10 am to 4:30 pm at Rutgers University SEC 111. Any girl interested in competing may join.


Visit nyc.nj.integirls.org for more information, or email nycnj@gmail.com.

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