Female enrollment in UT math graduate program continues to increase

Nia Wesley

Female enrollment in the University’s graduate mathematics program is increasing at a higher rate than at other universities with high-quality mathematics departments, according to the American Mathematical Society.  

The organization said, for top-tier math departments, women make up an average of 22.5 percent of the mathematical Ph.D. programs. UT’s mathematical Ph.D. program is 32 percent women and 68 percent men. In 2009, women made up 22 percent of incoming cohorts for UT’s program. The number has almost doubled to 43 percent in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“It’s encouraging to see that more of the top women of the world are choosing UT for their math graduate studies,” said Dan Knopf, associate dean for graduate education.

Knopf said a welcoming atmosphere, in addition to top-of-the-line faculty, staff and researchers, plays a major role in recruiting women and many top students to the program.

Graduate student Kaci Mohon studies actuarial science, which combines mathematics and statistics to assess risk in various financial fields, such as insurance. She said there are societal changes that are influencing more women to pursue math.

“The business place is more open to women now than it was in the ’50s, and they’re just trying to make a career for themselves,” Mohon said. “Math opens a lot of doors for a career.”

Mathematics associate professor Francesco Maggi said, while he is not sure why the number of women is increasing in the program, the few women in his class stand out.

“The women I know in mathematics have good success and are quite aggressive and push themselves into being the first in the group,” Maggi said.

Linda Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said in an email that she’s proud of the growing number of women in the math graduate program.

“The meaningful work that mathematicians and scientists do makes a real difference, and we want all students to feel welcome coming into our program,” Hicke said.

Growing diversity among the sexes in math graduate studies will take the program to the next level, according to Hicke.

“That our math department is recruiting the best students from around the country — men and women — puts us in a better position to be at the cutting edge for innovations in problem-solving,” Hicke said.