Perhaps no area within modern education is more promising and future-proof than STEM, but the ‘M’ for math is rightly seen as the foundation for all of these related disciplines. When it comes to young women, the very real issue of math anxiety – invoking a mixture of intimidation and lack of self-confidence – has been identified as a significant barrier to be overcome, often emerging among children in their early elementary school years.
With a passion for problem-solving and the math chops to back it up, Brittany Rhodes (pictured above, photo by Morgan McDonald) founded Black Girl MATHgic to address this challenge, building a subscription service delivering relevant content, materials, and motivation to help set future STEM superstars up for success. The organization was among six awardees of non-equity grants from the PledgeLA Summer Lab Fund, presented by HBCUvc and Crosscut Ventures in partnership with AnnenbergTech.
Rhodes was recently profiled by Forbes, in which she shared her approach to the problem set:
“I sought to create a product that addresses many of the phenomena that contribute to low math confidence and high math anxiety. I looked at gaps from a racial perspective. There’s a lot of gaps in terms of access to high quality math education – such as access to algebra one courses – which is the gateway to higher level mathematics and higher-level STEM education,” said Rhodes. As she looked at the gender gap, she realized, “It’s not an achievement gap. It’s not an ability gap. It’s not a performance gap. Boys and girls typically do perform about the same in their math ability in the United States. Confidence is where the gap exists,” she explained.
Rhodes’ work, which exemplifies exactly the type of data-driven strategies upon which PledgeLA relies, directly addresses systemic disparities in opportunity and highlights the huge upside of investing in leveling the playing field.
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