South’s Math department composed of mostly females


Rachel Nwia

Math teacher Michelle Steinberg teaching a class. She is one of the group of female math teachers that, for the first time, comprise a majority of the department.

Youjin Shon and Lorelei Streb

Men outnumber women in most science, technology, engineering and math professions, according to Minnesota State University. However, according to Math Teacher Kathy Coskey, the male to female ratio in these fields have grown more equal recently. And, in the South Math Department, there are more female teachers than male teachers.

Coskey has worked at South for 28 years and she says the fact that there are more female math teachers than male math teachers is a pleasant surprise for her. According to Coskey, the change in numbers wasn’t abrupt, but more of a gradual climb over the years.

“I really wasn’t [aware of the change],” Coskey said. “When I started here 20 plus years ago, there were definitely more men. It wasn’t something I really thought about because I think of this department as a whole. It’s just a great group of math teachers.”

After being aware of the gender difference in the department, Coskey believes this will prove to young female students that opportunities in math isn’t just limited to males. She wants to help girls realize their full potential and be confident in their math abilities.

“I think we’re serving as positive role models to tell the girls in school that, ‘Hey it’s not just the boys, and it’s not just the men who can do math and science,’” Coskey said. “I always try to encourage the girls in class that ‘Hey, girls are good at math too.’”

Math teacher Teresa Youngberg believes the stereotype that females are inferior to males in math exists due to girls’ lack of self-esteem and courage. She believes boys are more prone to raise their voices while girls are more afraid and hesitant to speak up.

“I think more of it is confidence and social issues whereas boys tend to, from what I’ve noticed in my class anyways, not be so nervous of making a mistake in front of other peers where girls tend to be people-pleasers, and want to have right answers, so they may not speak up,” Youngberg said.

According to Philip Gartner, Math Department instructional supervisor, there was a noticeable increase of female teachers at South because of the change in mindsets that they can also fit in the mathematics field.

“I think there’s probably over time great evolution that more and more females are seeing themselves as capable in mathematics and that they can be part of a mathematics faculty,” Gartner said. “They’re seeing themselves as a part of that. Some of that’s just the positive change as society has become more open in some fields that maybe in the past were male-dominated that are now becoming more equitable.”