STEM activist Adanna writes a letter to the subject she feared most in school.
In hindsight, I wish I knew what I know now about your importance and your value.
I wish I knew the truth about you before I met you. You are an interesting subject, unique in your own way, and very special.
Growing up, I heard stories about you. I had people tell me you were difficult, while others told me you were wonderful—if only I would get to know you better.
My younger self tried to fall in love with you, but it seemed the more I tried the more you put up barriers to stop me. Maybe those barriers were all in my head, just maybe.
My dear Math, many young girls dread your presence, as I did. Some have been told right from childhood that you are too difficult to handle, and this has made them run away from you. Those who gave you a chance and understood you early are glad they did.
The older I grew, the more I made extra effort to love you and understand you better. I have to admit that it was not easy for me though, as it is not easy for many girls to navigate math in school.
In primary schools, girls and boys sit down quietly to listen to your stories. They have dreams of becoming engineers, computer scientists, astronauts, pilots, writers, architects, scientists, pharmacists, doctors, and teachers.
In secondary schools, most of the boys are willing to confront you, while some of the girls do not want to be too forward in approaching you. Some of the girls silently back down.
In universities, your presence is always known.When I was seeking admission to a postgraduate course, I received an email that said, “Mathematics must be among the five subjects you passed in your school certificate examination before you can be admitted”. No matter how much I pretend not to notice, I cannot deny your influence in my life everywhere I go.
Even those who hate you cannot deny the fact that you are very important. Many groundbreaking discoveries that we celebrate today were made possible because of you, and you have changed the lives of many.
You have unlocked many mysteries and have contributed immensely to some of the most amazing discoveries in the story of mankind.
Math, I want more young girls to be on your friends list. I want them to understand you better and build a better relationship with you. You have a great role to play in their future. I do not want young girls to think you are too difficult to understand. I know you mean well, and I want them to know that, too.
In hindsight, I wish I knew what I know now about your importance and your value. I would tell my younger self to be more open to you, and to not to be ashamed to ask questions and to seek out a mentor.
To all young girls, I say, “Do not let fear of failure, excuses, what others think, or procrastination hinder you from learning maths.”
I have a vision where all youth, and especially young girls, understand your ways and embrace you as their friend.
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How to Get Involved
Adanna is the founder of InspireIT, a free global mentoring program for young girls and women interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You can follow InspireIT on Facebook and Twitter. To connect directly with Adanna, leave a comment or send her a message on World Pulse.