"Student Essay Contests" sponsored by AWM and Math for America

February 01, 2022

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Location (s):

  • Online
  • United States of America


To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Math for America  co-sponsor an essay contest for biographies of contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers. The essays will be based primarily on an interview with a woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career.


Submission Period. December 1 – February 1 through MathPrograms.org.

Submission Packet. A valid submission will contain the following information:

  • A biographical essay of approximately 500 – 1000 words in length, based primarily on an interview you conduct with a woman currently working in or retired from a mathematical career;
  • A short (approximately 100 words) biographical sketch of the student contestant. This biographical sketch should include the student’s name, grade level, school, and mathematical interests;
  • Information about the student:
    • student’s name;
    • address of student (or parent);
    • phone number or email address of student (or parent);
  • Information about the subject of the biography:
    • name;
    • address;
    • phone number and/or email address.

How to Submit. All information must be submitted using the online submission form (available December 1). Click on “Apply” and you will then be asked to create an account login. Once your login is created, please continue the submission process by answering the questions and submitting the requested documents.  If you have any problems submitting your essay, please contact AWM Essay Contest Organizer, Dr. Johanna Franklin (johanna.n.franklin@hofstra.edu).

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:

The contest is open to all students in these grade categories. The only gender restriction is that the person interviewed must be a woman. International students can participate.

Categories. This essay contest is open to students in the following categories:

  • Grades 6 – 8
  • Grades 9 – 12
  • Undergraduate

At least one winning submission will be chosen from each category.

Judging Criteria. Your essay should be based primarily on an interview you conduct with a woman currently working in or retired from a mathematical career.

  • The submission must be in essay form, not just a transcript of your interview.
  • The essay should be approximately 500 to 1000 words in length.
  • Essays will be judged by a panel of mathematicians on content, grammar, and presentation.

Essay Subject. You may interview and write about any woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career. Here are some suggestions for finding possible women to interview:

  • Female math teachers.
  • Female professors in mathematics at a local college or university (you can try looking up the school’s website and looking for the mathematics department; many departments list their faculty and their email addresses).
  • Consider other mathematical departments at colleges and universities, such as applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, physics, engineering, finance, etc.
  • To find mathematicians from underrepresented minorities, you may want to try the website for the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), or the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
  • To find out about other mathematical careers, you can look at the resources at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the SIAMwebsite, or the ASA website. Try contacting a woman in one of these industries!

If you would like to be put in contact with someone who has agreed to be interviewed for this contest, please contact AWM Essay Contest Interviewee Coordinator Dr. Joanna Bieri (joanna_bieri@redlands.edu). Please note that interviewee contacts will only be given out for requests received by January 10 each year.

Suggested Interview Questions. The following questions are suggestions for what ask your interviewee about during the interview:

  • What motivated your interviewee to pursue a career in the mathematical sciences?
  • What is your interviewee’s educational, family and cultural background?
  • What kind of work does she do?
  • Does she have any advice to students who are interested in pursuing a career in the mathematical sciences?
  • What are your interviewee’s hobbies?

All submissions become the property of the Association for Women in Mathematics.


Deadline: February 01, 2022

Cost/funding for participants:

This is a contest. There is a monetary award, but it doesn’t have to be used for schooling.

There is one First Place Winner in each category (Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate) and a Grand Prize Winner chosen from among those three First Place Winners. There are also typically 0-3 Honorable Mentions in each category.

What are the prizes?

The winners (including honorable mentions) receive a monetary prize, a membership in the Association for Women in Mathematics, a certificate, and their name and affiliation published in the Newsletter for the AWM. In addition, all of the essays are published online and the Grand Prize winner‘s essay is published in the AWM Newsletter.

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