Scholarship Value: $500
Awards Available: 3

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. Participation is open to middle school, high school, and undergraduate students.

Submission Period. December 1 – February 1 through

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

1) 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;

2) A short (approximately 100 words) biographical sketch of the student contestant. This biographical sketch can be written in the first person, and it should include the student's name, grade level, school, and mathematical interests;

3) Information about the student:

A) student's name;

B) address of student (or parent);

C) phone number or email address of student (or parent);

4) Information about the subject of the biography:

A) name;

B) address;

C) 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 (


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

Grades 6 – 8
Grades 9 – 12

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.

A) The submission must be in essay form, not just a transcript of your interview.

B) The essay should be approximately 500 to 1000 words in length.

C) 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:

A) To find out about mathematical careers, you can look at the resources at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the SIAM website, or the ASA website. Try contacting a woman in one of these industries!

B) 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), the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), Lathisms, or Mathematically Gifted & Black (MGB).

C) Look for mathematicians who are active on social media.

D) Math teachers.

E) 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).

F) Consider other mathematical departments at colleges and universities, such as applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, physics, engineering, finance, etc.

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 ( 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:

A) What motivated your interviewee to pursue a career in the mathematical sciences?

B) What is your interviewee's educational, family and cultural background?

C) What kind of work does she do?

D) Does she have any advice to students who are interested in pursuing a career in the mathematical sciences?

E) What are your interviewee's hobbies?

These questions are just starting points! Use them as a guide, but ask other questions based on your interests or what you know about your interviewee's interests and experiences, too. You should also follow up with more questions based on your interviewee's responses to make this more of a conversation. Speaking in person, over the phone, or in a videoconference instead of e-mailing will make it easier for you two to respond to each other.

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

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