Mary Hopkins, 36, will soon graduate with a math doctorate from Florida Atlantic University, one of five math PhDs expected to go to the largest class of women in the school’s history. She also will be the first black woman to earn a doctorate in math from FAU and only the third among all state universities since at least 1990.
“I just had very encouraging teachers. I’ve heard of math teachers not encouraging females, especially minorities, but all of my professors are so great, and they’re all old white men,” said Hopkins, who spent a full hour last week working out a lengthy math question in front of her classmates and professors.
FAU will award four other women with math PhDs: Bashak Ay, Marcela Chiorescu, Zhihua Liu and Viktoria Villanyi. FAU math administrators said they didn’t do anything special to recruit more women into their doctoral program and believe there’s a natural increase of women studying math as traditional stereotypes fall away.