08/17/2013 11:45 am ET

Terri Oda, Mathematician, Debunks 'Women Are Bad At Math' Myth In Brilliant Slideshow

Terri Oda

One female mathematician is tired of people assuming that the lack of women in STEM fields is due to women just being worse at math and science than men.

Terri Oda, who is currently enrolled in a postdoc program at the University of New Mexico's adaptive systems lab and has taught computer science for the past seven years, made a funny and convincing slideshow to undermine the oh-so-tired but nonetheless persistent notion that women "just aren't good" at math.

The slideshow uses data from studies about gender and mathematical ability to debunk this common myth.

In an email interview for Fast Co.Labs, Oda explained the inspiration behind the project:

Women in computing tend to have to waste an awful lot of time answering questions related to being a woman in computing. Case in point: My male colleagues are doing science while I'm taking time to answer this email. So I wanted to make something short, funny, and easy to pass around so women could turn those stupid arguments on their heads.

So, how can we get -- and keep -- more women in STEM? The Institute For Mathematics & Computer Science recommends pairing young girls with female mentors in STEM fields, either independently or through formal programs like Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution (IGNITE) and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Oda also suggests better socializing men in STEM fields and working harder to retain women in STEM programs.

In an email to the Huffington Post, Oda also shared the advice she'd give to any young girls and women interested in STEM careers:

Because there are fewer of us, lots of women in science are willing to go out a bit out of their way to meet other women, and connect friends to each other, and as a result I've had the chance to interact and collaborate with some of the most amazing, intelligent, inspiring people in the field, and they always push me to be more awesome.

Check out the full slideshow below, and head over to Terri's website for more information about her and her work.


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