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The Carletonian

Math department receives $495,341 grant to hire female assistant professor

Carleton’s Mathematics department recently received the Clare Boothe Luce grant for $495,341 dollars toward the hiring of a female researcher and Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Carleton’s Mathematics department, which in recent years has taken steps to diversify its faculty and students, will now be able to further its role in gender representation in STEM. The award will also provide many opportunities for students due to the resources this grant provides.

The Clare Boothe Luce grant, named after a successful politician, diplomat and playwright, comes from a private institution that supports women in science, math and engineering in higher education.

With the building of Carleton’s new Integrated Science Center, this grant comes at a time when Carleton is starting to revitalize its STEM departments.

One of the biggest benefits of this grant, according to Eric Egge, head of Carleton’s Mathematics department, is the opportunities it provides for the selected professor.

“This gets her career launched in a really exciting way. The resources that are connected with this grant will allow her to do a whole bunch of different things that would be a lot harder to do without those resources,” said Egge.

Some of the many opportunities available to the potential professor would be the hiring of additional summer students, bringing in research collaborators from other places, and even hosting a mini symposium. In the past Carleton has provided funding for these kinds of resources but this grant provides a considerable number of additional opportunities.

This grant is one of the many ways in which Carleton has attempted to diversify its Mathematics department.

Egge explained, “We have been trying to diversify along a variety of axes for a number of years and certainly increasing the representation of women amongst our faculty, majors, and students is high on that list.”

One of these actions has been the hiring of women in tenure track positions. Caroline Turnage-Butterbaugh, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Kate Meyer ’09, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics who is finishing her post doctorate at Cornell University, are two examples of esteemed faculty that continue to be examples for women within the department.

“That’s just at the faculty level,” said Egge. “At the student level, we have a whole variety of ongoing efforts. We have an organization called SWiMS+ (Society for Women in Mathematics and Statistics) which is designed to help make our community more welcoming for women in math.”

The Summer Mathematics Program for Women ran for nearly 20 years before its end in 2014. This program brought in twenty sophomore math majors from across the country and was led by Deanna Haunsperger and Steve Kennedy. The ending of this program was due to a lack of funds from the National Science Foundation.

Carleton has finished campus interviews and is currently in what Egge calls the “quiet period” of the hiring process, where nothing happens in public view but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. The math department hopes to make the final results public soon and welcome a new mathematics professor to Carleton College. Until then, Egge says, “We are really excited by the Clare Boothe Luce foundation’s support. We have been working on this sort of thing for a very long time and to have these kinds of resources to put towards it is a really exciting development.”

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