Dear Oprah

Dear Oprah,

I am writing to you today because, despite the fact that I am a huge fan, I wanted to talk to you about your What I know for Sure column in the April 2013 issue of O Magazine:

”I am confident in most things that don’t require mathematics or technological skills. In those areas, I’m not just challenged – I’m functionally illiterate.”

I understand that kind of thinking. I too love to read, love art, love connecting with people and feeling the amazing synergy that comes when you’re really doing something that you love. The only thing is, and this is something that I know for sure, as Galileo said,

“Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”

If there is magic, and as the Math Fairy I believe that there is, then that magic is math. Math makes the rainbows. Mathematical patterns create the beauty of seashells and tree branches and flower petals. And math is not just adding or struggling to master an algebra equation. Math is games and fun and working together to figure something out. Did you know that women in America still do not do as well as men on tests of mathematics? Look at this graph from September 2012 from the American Enterprise Institute:

SAT math graph

Personally, as the mother of a 19 year old daughter, I find this disturbing. As an adopted mom to your beautiful girls from South Africa, doesn’t this bother you? As well, statistics on careers in technology from the US Department of Commerce continue to reflect this inequality:

  •  Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs – considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
  • Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
  • Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.

So, Oprah, I think it might be time for you to find your math-i-ness! ☺ You can be a leader in this, just as you have been a leader in so, so many breakthroughs for women. You are a positive icon for feminism, for compassion, for intelligence and for so much more. Please be a positive power in the world for mathematics.

How, you may ask?

Well, I think you should explore the Math Fairy website and have some fun… watch Donald in MathMagic Land, make a tessellation, play a math game, draw a hopscotch…I’ll come over and do any and all of the above with you and I’ll even wear my Math Fairy costume. Hey! You could have a Math Fairy costume, too! Thanks for letting me share with you what I know for sure and thanks for continuing to inspire greatness in the world!

Sincerely,

The Math Fairy