Recently, The Atlantic published an article titled “Math for Girls Math for Boys” by A.K. Whitney. It is a well-written article and offers a good perspective on competitions designed for girls. As I have blogged before, it is definitely worrying that there are very few girls who get qualified every year to participate in the International Math Olympiad (IMO), and the girls’ qualification numbers from the United States have been very discouraging and disappointing for the past many years.
I would like to point out that competitions such as the European Girls Math Olympiad are very important on international stage. Such a competition not only gives a platform for girls to compete with other top girls at an international level, but also helps build a great international community for these girls who are representing their countries.
It is very easy to say that such competitions are inferior to the IMO, however, until we have a gender equality in qualification (typically in the US, 1 out of 5 girls qualify for USAMO and the number reduces much further to almost zero by the time IMO qualification is reached) for such competitions. MIT Math Prize for Girls is also such a competition where nearly the top 300 girls from high schools in the US participate based on their scores from the AMC 10 (top 2.5%)/AMC12 (top 5%) competitions every year. From what I have heard, girls love participating in this competition and it has very high prizes as well.
Overall, we need more girls to participate in math competitions, parents and educators need to encourage them from early years, and we need great female mentor/coaches to create and increase girls’ participation and excellence in math competitions.