By Hannah Li
Saturday, April 21st saw the 9th annual All Girls Math Tournament at St. Margaret's Episcopal School, hosted by the AGMT organization.
This math competition is unique in that all the competitors are young women. Such competitions are important because they encourage girls to pursue their passion for math. This is especially relevant in the workforce today, because even though many girls report liking math and science in their elementary and middle school years, just 24% grow up to be employed in STEM fields. Compared to countries like Algeria, where 41% of college graduates who majored in the various components of STEM were women, that is a large difference. Hence, America needs to encourage girls to pursue their interests more instead of pushing them away - a view mirrored by many parents of the AGMT participants.
“It’s empowering,” says Abrir Makarem, the parent of one participant, “[AGMT] encourages girls to know that they can do whatever it is that they set their minds to.”
A forty minute sprint round combined with a twenty-four minute target round make up the individual part of the competition, followed by a fifteen minute team round where the girls work in teams of up to 6 to solve ten challenging math problems. After the competition, Dr. Michele Cheung gave an inspiring, half-hour guest speech and the AGMT board members handed out awards.
From third to eighth grade respectively, the first place individual winners were Joleen Vansomphone, Marissa Huang, Katelyn Gan, Sophia Chen, Konnie Duan, and Shrishti Dalal. Awards were also handed out to second and third place individual winners and first and second place teams.
“The purpose is to inspire more girls to pursue math, because a lot of girls, especially at a young age, do like math, but then in their middle school years end up being discouraged and then don’t pursue math as much as they could or should,” says President Natalie Yee, a junior at St. Margaret's, “And so we just want to make sure that they stay motivated and continue to pursue careers in STEM, and eventually decrease the gender gap.”
However, AGMT does not only host an annual competition. This year, they also published a book with past AGMT problems and detailed solutions, held classes by grade level to help prepare for the tournament, collaborated with girl scouts, and started math mixers for girls to get together and just enjoy math.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” said Yee, “Planning all the details, writing the tests, figuring out the logistics, recruiting and training volunteers, publicizing the event, the list goes on.”
In addition, “the main focus isn’t necessarily to compete. Some of the benefits are to make new friends and realize there are so many girls who also like math,” said Yee.
With this, it’s no wonder that this unique competition has already spread across the globe to Romania, China, and Canada. The AGMT board has done amazing work and next year’s competition will be even better than this one.