Assessing and Improving Girls' and Women's Math Identity (2022-2023)


The gender gap in STEM fields exists at all levels, from childhood through career selection, and there are many different, but often related, causes for female underrepresentation. One major cause of the gender gap is women’s and girls’ math identity — their beliefs, attitudes and emotions about math and STEM. This identity can negatively influence their interest and motivation in STEM fields, even if their own abilities and performance demonstrate strength in these areas. 

Building awareness of factors that contribute negatively to math identity will help empower and encourage girls and women to persist in STEM fields.

Project Description

Building on the work of previous teams, this project team will investigate internal and external factors that contribute to students’ math identities and increase awareness of these factors. The team will implement a series of free workshops for middle school girls in Durham to address causes of the gender gap in STEM.

Team members will work together to improve a curriculum consisting of hands-on, problem-based math material designed to help participants visualize, explore and discover concepts, along with age-appropriate social science discussions and activities on gender and STEM topics such as stereotypes, self-assessment and mindset.

Team members will also collaborate with the Innovation Co-Lab to lead and assess a summer workshop curriculum that focuses on spatial reasoning training. All workshops will be led by female-identifying students, who will serve as positive role models of women in STEM fields. 

To develop and assess curricula, team members will pool and analyze previously collected survey data assessing middle school girls’ math identity. This research will expand to assess beliefs among middle school students who are not participating in workshops, so that program impacts can be compared to a wider control group. 

The team will create new survey instruments to validate training and assessment materials. Some team members will also focus their research on examining ways to effectively connect workshop materials with topics that participants study in the classroom.

Anticipated Outputs

Workshop curriculum; team website; literature database; informational resources for parents; undergraduate-authored publication 


Fall 2022 – Summer 2023

  • Fall 2022: Draft survey instruments; commence research and discussion trainings; refine workshop curriculum; maintain social media outreach; advertise spring workshops
  • Spring 2023: Commence Saturday workshops; begin data analysis 
  • Summer 2023 (optional): Coordinate and implement summer workshops 

See earlier related team, Assessing and Improving Girls’ and Women’s Math Identity (2021-2022).


Image: Courtesy of 2018-19 project team

Working on math.

Team Leaders

  • Victoria Akin, Arts & Sciences-Mathematics
  • Sophia Santillan, Pratt School of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Morgan Bedingfield, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Laura Boyle, Mathematics (BS)
  • Katy Burns, Psychology (BS)
  • Amelia Cangialosi
  • Clara Henne
  • Paige Knudsen, Computer Science (BS)
  • Margaret Moore
  • Amber Skinner, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • McKenna Vernon

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Suzanne Crifo, Academic Resource Center
  • Lauren Valentino, The Ohio State University
  • Christina L. Williams, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Durham Public Schools