math · School

On the topic of titles.

When does one consider themselves a mathematician?

Is it once you’ve stuck that major to your educational goals? Do you have to earn a degree in it? Or earn a certain degree? Do only Ph.D’s in research have that title? Is there a secret committee that will come to my door one day and say, “We had a meeting, and we decided we want you in our club. You’re bringing snacks next week. Julio is allergic to nuts, so no nuts.”?

One. Of. Us. One. Of. Us.

In the spirit of lazy undergraduate answer seeking I Googled “mathematician”.

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

What are the parameters of:

Extensive? To the normal person when I say I got straight A’s through the Calculus cycle they think I am a math genius. To my classmates they give me the side eye and we have that soul bond in the thought that those were the days as now we’re lucky if our grading is curved to fix that 50% we got on the midterm. To my former bio major friends they hear me talk about my classes and are like, “There is a world beyond lower-div linear algebra and differential equations?!?! What math is this?!” Oh you sweet children. But then I talk to my friends in grad school math and they are like, “yeah, real analysis was required. I’m taking such and such for fun.” Is extensive when you’re taking math for fun? Cuz honestly, I’m taking topology for fun this quarter. It technically fulfills a requirement at the moment, but that would have been fulfilled with my mandatory choosing of Abstract Linear Algebra later on. I guess “extensive” is subjective. But mathematicians shouldn’t leave room for subjectivity. I need to know. My Google search also says, that the entry requirement is a master’s degree. (Are these requirements posted somewhere? Are there any other requirements? Certain GPA? Blood type? Should I have retail experience?) But what about those undergrads with rad research experience? I would consider them mathematicians.

Using math in your work? I mean, my mom used to tell me school is my job and I was required to do math in school. Is homework considered math work? I mean it has work in the title. I certainly feel like I mathematician at my paying job when someone asks me to add simple numbers and I declare, “Hold on, let me get my calculator!” I am at a point without any general-ed requirements that I am taking full terms of math and my non-math advisors always question me, “Are you sure you want to take 12 units of math?” I mean no, I am not sure of this, to be honest. But isn’t this the point of being a math major? I work at math but am I using it? Wouldn’t only applied math types, actuaries, and weirdos like that actually be using it? (Yes, I threw major shade at applied math. Only because I wish I could be in applied math.)

Typically? So the non-typical mathematicians use math to solve non-math problems? Would that make these problems by association…math problems? Is this more of a philosophy question? What are these problems? I like being in the minority, this might interest me. I feel like any world problem that we can apply math to is, in fact, a math problem. Math is life. Blood in, blood out.

I don’t know when I will officially become a mathematician. But when I do, I expect someone to present me with a sash and scepter.

depression · math · School

Bouncing Back.

Or rather climbing my way out of the pit I dug for myself.

Due to my stubbornness to admit I had a really huge depression issue all last year, I now have to fight the powers that be at my school for the right to my financial aid for the coming year.

I don’t like this.

This means there will be an official document in my academic files saying I had a major bout of depression. Something I didn’t want, which is why I avoided telling anyone.

But now I have no choice. It’s admit it or move home.

Or take out an insane amount of loans, which I’m not prepared to do. So beg the financial aid people it is!

I am going into the advising office tomorrow and hope they won’t force me to meet with my faculty advisor. Or maybe I’ll convince them to let me switch faculty advisors, but I think that means at some point I will have to explain why I want to switch my faculty advisor. Which I won’t do.

God dammit.

life · math

Adrift in a sea of endless opportunity…shit’s scary.

I am a directionless upper division student. It’s an interesting spot to be in, seeing parts of new ideas like topology and fields and thinking…is this it? Is this the concept that is going to get me hooked and I’ll know what to do in grad school?

As if it’s just sitting there for me twiddling it’s thumbs. Knowing I am beating myself up because I just don’t think I understand how ideals work, or that I am bored as fuck with all these epsilon proofs.

I was e-mailing with Professor S today and realized, I might actually like these evil proofs from abstract algebra. Let’s not admit this too much.

I just wish it would be like BAM here I am!!! Fall in love with me already and let’s get this mathematics on the road!!!

Also, let’s realize my current attitude towards math is how my peers feel about finding their significant others at this time in their lives. I don’t know if I am sad or nerdy.

I say both.


Having a vagina in math is a slight annoyance.

In creating a blog with the fact that I am a female in math, I figured at some point I’d get to this topic. I just didn’t think it  would be so soon.

There are so many articles dedicated to how women are treated in STEM majors or anaylsis on why women don’t go into STEM majors. The idea I hear most lately is that women tend to have more anxiety towards math due to the anxiety their female teachers had towards the subject. I think it’s a little bit of that but also that you really get picked at, in the name of “I’m just joking with you”.

I’ve personally heard the following comments when struggling with my work:

“Men are just better at math. It’s how their brains work.”

“It’s okay that you don’t get math, men are just better at it.”

“You’re not a man/Asian. So you’re just not naturally good at it.”

“It’s a really hard subject. And you’re good at English/biology. So don’t worry about it.”

And then there’s the other comments when I excel at my work:

“We all know what you did to get that grade.” *insert handjob motion*

“Why do you go to ____’s office hours so much? Do you have a crush on him?”

“I think ____ helps you so much because he’s attracted to you.”

Most of the time I just roll my eyes or give an uncomfortable laugh. I really hate making enemies with people I have to work with so I just kind of take it. But this week, I am really uncomfortable.

I did really underwhelmingly on my analysis midterm. There I said it.

I fully get analysis. I just don’t enjoy it, it kind of bores me. And when something bores me I just ‘meh’ my way through it. And it always seems to backfire. And it backfired.

I don’t know what went on behind the scenes but I am gathering that my analysis professor who smells like my dad met with Dr. Dreamcrusher to figure out what kind of student I am and if this is something expected from me. There was some sort of conversation about what Dr. Dreamcrusher knows about me and my analysis professor emailed me last week for a meeting.

I guess I should also mention that I got into that program that Dr. Dreamcrusher wrote that late letter for. So he also wanted to talk about that, since the program will cover analysis.

There was a closed door (and walk to the on campus marketplace) meeting where he graciously offered to incomplete me for the quarter even though I will finish as if I am in the class so I could do the program and audit in the fall for an attempt at an A instead of a C or whatever I am getting now. It seems he’s really trying to guide me towards graduate school and explained an A in analysis is the key.

And I am grateful as fuck.

(Side note: I am a little shocked A) Dr. Dreamcrusher cared at all. 2) remembered anything about me enough to pass along information to my analysis professor. Then he just got really weird in the next office hour asking me “how I am doing in analysis.” Bitch, you already know. I know you know because my analysis professor said you fools chatted. Don’t play this game. Just tell me you know I did bad and offer whatever you’re gonna offer. Don’t beat around the bush, dude. Also, stop asking me uncomfortable questions with a bunch of people around. I am not going to give an answer or I am gonna lie. Ugh. Also, this new ‘caring’ thing is scaring me. The man is an odd bird.)

That said, the guys in my analysis class saw that I met with our professor and now there are comments about how I am doing sexual favors for a good grade as it was a private, out of office hours meeting and they saw me walking with him.

I haven’t told anyone what I have gotten on my midterm because I generally don’t share my grades good or bad. I find if they are good, all of a sudden you have several ‘new friends’ who want to copy off you, or if they are bad all of a sudden you become the butt of their jokes. So I just don’t.

So I just uncomfortably laughed and told them to fuck off. But it continued for a little while longer. Then it continued the next day. And the next. And I am already tired of it.

I don’t want to explain what the meeting was about to these guys because it’s a favor that my professor doesn’t have to do. I don’t want the entire class to find out and 1) be upset, and 2) expect the same treatment or 3) my professor get in trouble for doing tricky shit.

And this isn’t the first time I have gotten this. When I took multi-variable calculus, I had a professor straight out of Berkeley and had zero clue on how to teach. He was smart, but not good at instruction. We started the semester with about 20 students. I was 1 of 2 females in the class, and the first day of instruction the guys were joking in the hallway that I was the most likely person to drop because I was 1) female and 2) not of an “approved math ethnicity” because I am Mexican. So less than 8 people ended up at the final and 1 person had an A in the class. That was me.

They attributed it to the fact that I must have had sex with the professor. I didn’t, I actually was the only one who fully completed the massive packet of semester review he assigned. So I got an A.

(Side note: not that the A meant I mastered multi-V. I remember almost nothing. It’s sad.)

But sometimes these comments get to me. I start wondering, did a professor give me leniency because I am a female? Am I getting preferential treatment because of my gender or they think I am weaker? I didn’t even want to tell the school about being sick last quarter because I didn’t want to think I got good grades because my professors felt bad I was sick. I hate that shit. I want to get my degree because I earned my degree and that alone.

I just don’t understand why if I show up for office hours constantly, I must have a some sort of romantic feelings. It can’t possibly be that I know my weaknesses and know I need to hear the material in several different ways so show up to get help? Or in hearing what other people ask, helps me get hints? Or I genuinely want guidance about my major? Or I know I have anxiety about this subject and in order to feel more confident about it I seek affirmation from my professor? Or I work better one on one because I get incredibly nervous asking with a bunch of people listening?

Are these guys serious with what they say? Probably not. But it’s annoying and old.