Improving Girls’ Math Identity through Problem-solving and Mentorship (2020-2021)

Over the past three years, this team has inspired students to change their own relationships with math by building students' confidence, ownership and self-sufficiency in problem-solving, and by building awareness of gender stereotypes and their potential impacts. Each year, the project team has planned and run a series of free workshops for middle school students who identified as female in an attempt to improve their math identity. Outside of the workshops, Duke team members have also worked together to plan activities, discuss their own ideas and approaches and build an increased awareness of gender stereotypes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the team from holding in-person workshops for middle school girls in 2020-2021, the team instead worked in six small groups on projects to continue forward progress. These projects included:

  • Building a digital applet
  • Updating the project website and maintaining a social media presence
  • Performing data analysis to measure past program impact
  • Streamlining past workshop lesson plans and developing future workshop activities
  • Conducting a thorough literature review
  • Creating a survey instrument for local middle school students

In their work on these projects, students incorporated elements from their current research in topics like gender inequality in STEM, stereotypes, implicit bias and imposter syndrome.


Fall 2020 – Summer 2021

Team Outputs

Building Girls’ Confidence in STEM (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Improving Girls’ Math Identity through Problem Solving and Mentorship (poster by Sophia Santiallan, Victoria Akin, Leah Metcalf, Samatha Dilley, Morgan Feist, Julia Helm, Sydney Hunt, Tayla Jeter, Tess Lipskey, Naomi Rubin, Miryam Rudolph, Ann Sawers, Anna Song, Caroline Tang and Michelle Yin)


Sydney Hunt

This Team in the News

‘Ensure everyone has access to resources they need and deserve’: Meet Undergraduate Young Trustee finalist Sydney Hunt

Taking the Bull City by the Horns

Spotlighting Innovative Duke Women for #InternationalWomensDay 2023

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related teams, Spatial Reasoning and Problem-based Learning to Improve Girls' Math Identity (2021-2022) and Spatial Reasoning and Problem-based Learning to Improve Girls' Math Identity (2019-2020).


Image: The Green Star team tries to untangle themselves during the Human Knot activity.

Human Knot.

Team Leaders

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

/graduate Team Members

  • Aidan Combs, Sociology-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Samantha Dilley
  • Morgan Feist, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Julia Helm, Psychology (BS)
  • Sydney Hunt
  • Talya Jeter
  • Tess Lipsky, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Naomi Rubin
  • Miryam Rudolph
  • Ann Sawers
  • Anna Song, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Caroline Tang, Mathematics (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)
  • Michelle Yin, Mathematics (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Sandra Bermond, Academic Services and Research Computing
  • Dana (Chip) Bobbert II, Academic Services and Research Computing
  • Michael Faber, Innovation Co-Lab; OIT
  • Martha Putallaz, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Christina L. Williams, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Durham Public Schools
  • Leah Metcalf, UNC Chapel Hill-Ph.D. Student