In elementary school, Cynthia Wang would often find herself being the only girl in STEM-related clubs, such as robotics. In November 2019, she founded Girls Who Math, a student-led organization that strives to make STEM fun and approachable to girls and young women.
Almost done with eleventh grade at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Wang is the founder and executive director of Girls Who Math. The organization, which is run by herself and four other students, offers a variety of services for girls interested in STEM, such as classes like “Introduction to JAVA” and math tutoring. Due to the pandemic, all services are held online.
In addition, the organization does a lot of outreach with schools. “We talk to different schools in the area,” says Wang, “and try to discuss how we can get more girls involved in STEM and try to get girls interested and give them more opportunities.”
Although they’ve moved online, they’re still contacting principals and having discussions about what they can do to help.
Wang has volunteered with organizations like Code for NOVA and qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) multiple times. Now, she uses this experience to provide girls with learning opportunities that will benefit them and their communities in the future.
Her inspiration for starting Girls Who Math was the lack of a program like it when she was younger. “I just really wanted to be that support system,” she says, “to be able to provide free education to girls. To make them feel comfortable doing these things without judgement.”
Wang recalls that when she wanted to join a math-related club in middle school, she was told that she “didn’t know enough,” something that her male counterparts didn’t experience.
“I think it’s really important to have something for girls that is easily accessible and not expensive, because I think a lot of times, trying to get an education outside of school is extremely expensive or very exclusive to varying groups of people,” she explains.
Wang says that STEM education is usually geared towards boys, and her organization offers a place for girls who are interested in learning more about the subject. But it also serves as a place that girls can go to with questions and feel comfortable doing so.
Her favorite part has been seeing the volunteer turnout. Volunteers at Girls Who Math range from students in high school, to teachers and college students. “They don’t personally gain anything from doing this, but the fact that they’re willing to take time out of their day to tutor someone or teach a class is really amazing.”
At the end of June, the organization is hosting interest meetings with schools like Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania. They also have a summer program starting soon and are always looking for volunteers.
For more information on the organization and their services visit: https://girlswhomath.net