AWM Scholarships

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 or retired from 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:

  • 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 can be written in the first person, and it 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;
    • phone number and/or email address.

How to Submit. Submissions are open on If you have any questions, please contact the AWM Essay Contest Organizer, Dr. Johanna Franklin (

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 or retired from a mathematical sciences career with a small number of exceptions (listed below).  Here are some suggestions for finding possible women to interview:

  • 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!
  • 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, Mathematically Gifted & Black (MGB), or Indigenous Mathematicians.
  • Look for mathematicians who are active on social media.
  • Math teachers.
  • 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.

If you would like to be put in contact with someone who has agreed to be interviewed for this contest, please fill out this Google Form. Please note that we can only accommodate requests received by January 10 each year.

A few women are not eligible as essay subjects. These individuals are:

  • subjects of essays that have won a Grand Prize, First Place, or Honorable Mention in the past four years,
  • the President, President-Elect, Past President, and Executive Director of the AWM, and
  • current AWM Essay Contest Committee members.

A complete list of ineligible women can be found online.

Suggested Interview Questions. The following questions are suggestions for what to ask your interviewee 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?

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 

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