This research project is inspired by the "LGBT+ Physicists" papers1,2,3 which examined the climate for queer physicists in the United States published by the American Physical Association and will be carried out in collaboration with two of the original authors Dr. Ramon Barthelemy and Dr. Timothy Atherton.
There is a lack of research into the experiences of queer people in mathematics, but based on related research, the queer experience in STEM fields and the experiences of marginalised people in maths tend to be less positive than their non-marginalised peers with poorer learning outcomes and lower rates of continuation in their field of study2,4,5.
Much of the research into equity and inclusion in mathematics has been done in the United States; this research will explore an Irish context. Any recommendations made, to improve the state of the climate of mathematics education, at the conclusion of this research, will be specific to an Irish context and culture.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been shown to breed innovation, and creativity6. Determining how to improve DEI within mathematics is important as the focus of mathematical research is to develop and discover new ideas. If the field can cultivate greater inclusion of people who have been traditionally excluded from mathematical research, mathematical research could encourage greater progress.
The methodology of this research can be broken down into three main parts: survey and quantitative data, interviews and qualitative data, and a literature review.
The survey will collect data from undergraduate and postgraduate mathematics students at Irish universities that offer mathematics courses (DCU, DkIT, NUIG, NUIM, TCD, TUD, UCC, UCD, and UL). The survey asks questions in relation to students' college, work, and home climates. The data collected from the survey will be analysed using hypothesis tests, chi-squared tests, and other statistical tools to compare queer students' responses to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. This analysis will reveal whether or not there are significant differences between the experiences of queer and heterosexual and cisgender students within Irish university mathematics.
The interviews will collect information specific to interviewee likelihood of continuing in a mathematical field after graduation and individual testimony about college experiences. This data will bolster the results from the survey and provide feedback and ideas as to how the university environment should be changed to foster greater feelings of inclusion.
The literature review will provide broader information and analysis into the climates experienced by marginalised groups in STEM and mathematics. These readings will provide further insight into inequality within mathematics and what has been done to help remedy these inequalities.
To conclude the project, the findings and recommendations will be written up and disseminated to the universities in order to provide information and potential tools to improve their courses.
- Barthelemy, R. S. (2020). LGBT+ physicists qualitative experiences of exclusionary behavior and harassment. European Journal of Physics, 41(6). https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6404/abb56a
- Barthelemy, R. S., Swirtz, M., Garmon, S., Simmons, E. H., Reeves, K., Falk, M. L., Deconinck, W., Long, E. A., & Atherton, T. J. (2022). LGBT+ physicists: Harassment, persistence, and uneven support. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010124
- Barthelemy, R. S., Hughes, B. E., Swirtz, M., Mikota, M., & Atherton, T. J. (2022). Workplace climate for LGBT+ physicists: A view from students and professional physicists. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevphyseducres.18.010147
- Rousseau, C., & Tate, W. F. (2003). No Time like the Present: Reflecting on Equity in School Mathematics. Theory Into Practice, 42(3), 210–216. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1477422
- Zevenbergen, R. (2001). Changing Contexts in Tertiary Mathematics: Implications for Diversity and Equity. In: Holton, D., Artigue, M., Kirchgräber, U., Hillel, J., Niss, M., Schoenfeld, A. (eds) The Teaching and Learning of Mathematics at University Level. New ICMI Study Series, vol 7. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/0-306-47231-7_2
- Phillips, K.W. (2014). How Diversity Makes Us Smarter. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/
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