In 2021, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) will celebrate its 50th anniversary. To commemorate this event, AWM has created a new card deck called EvenQuads that can be used for at least five new mathematical games. One side of the cards features graphics inspired by logos from four mathematical associations: AWM, Mathematical Association for America (MAA), National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), and Women and Mathematics Education (WME). The other sides feature short biographies and hand-drawn portraits of 64 truly amazing women in mathematics.
The stories of many of these honorees are not as well known as they should be. For example, while Sofia Kovalevskaya was the first woman to earn a doctorate degree in mathematics in 1874, it took nearly 70 more years (1943) before the first Black American woman, Euphemia Lofton Haynes, was awarded a doctorate degree in mathematics and another 58 years (2001) before she was recognized as being the first. Dr. Haynes was a fierce advocate for education equality, working to end tracking systems in the Washington DC area that placed Black students on non-college-bound education tracks. In 2001, Nalini Joshi became the first woman appointed as a full professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Sydney, where she co-founded the Science in Australia Gender Equity program. Nora Ramirez has made significant contributions to increasing the quality of mathematics education to underserved students, by scholarly work on equity issues and by contributing to standards development. She is a founding member and past president of TODOS: Mathematics for ALL.
Visible role models like Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Nalini Joshi, and Nora Ramirez are important to reverse a trend found by several studies: girls begin to lose interest in mathematics (and other STEM fields) as early as in middle school. This lack of role models is even more stark for minority women. Because EvenQuads is appropriate for ages 10 and up and also celebrates all women in mathematics, we hope that the deck and its mathematical games help inspire the next generation of women mathematicians.
There are far more than 64 women who merit featuring on cards, so there are four decks planned. The project management committee worked to ensure that the selection of women highlighted reflect the true diversity of the mathematical community, and as a result approximately 45% of the women featured in Deck 1 are from underrepresented groups.
Many of the featured women were the “first”: the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics, the first person in a family to graduate high school, the first woman awarded the Fields Medal, the first female professor in the department, etc. Each of these women has broken through her own personal glass ceiling, and whether that is a familial, national, or global achievement it should be celebrated. Not everyone has the same path through life, through college, or through our profession, but these journeys and these women should be recognized and celebrated as the trailblazers they have become.
Learn more about the project at
The Kickstarter campaign for the first EvenQuads deck (of four!) runs through November 18th.