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Gunn girls compete in the Math Prize for Girls at MIT

A group of Gunn girls attended the Math Prize for Girls competition this year. Courtesy of Jane Ahn

Written by Evalyn Li

A group of Gunn girls attended the Math Prize for Girls competition at MIT from Sept.19 to Sept. 21. This year, senior Patricia Tang, juniors Shannon Yang, Maya Sankar and Jane Ahn and sophomore Sherry Chen attended the competition. To qualify, attendees must have taken either the American Math Competitions 10 or 12 last February and submitted an application last June. The top 300 applicants were invited to the competition.

Ahn and Sankar qualified for the Math Prize for Girls Olympiad. Courtesy of Jane Ahn

Ahn and Sankar qualified for the Math Prize for Girls Olympiad. Courtesy of Jane Ahn

Ahn has participated in this competition since eighth grade. Her first year, she said, was the most eye-opening. “It was quite amazing to see 300 other people do math, see them win and just see how good they are,” Ahn said. “It was very inspiring; it got me to work harder in math and helped me come to this point.”

Sankar emphasized that this competition is a meeting place for girls in math. This is meaningful because she describes mathematics as a field in which girls are “discouraged” due to the seemingly high number of participating boys and consequently a culture that is already in place. “Well, at Gunn, we’re lucky there’s a pretty close female to male ratio in our math club, but at [most] math competitions it’s very common that there is all guys or just one girl on the team,” Sankar said. “I really like meeting other girls in math and seeing that they actually exist, and there are a lot of them.”

Ahn explained she enjoys meeting new people and that the Game Night, the night before the competition during which they play games, eat snacks, and socialize, is a fun pre-competition activity. “[It’s] the best part about this competition,” she said. “I was able to get touch with all my old friends and it was a good way to relax before the competition.”

This contest is also the qualifier for the Math Prize for Girls Olympiad. 30 girls take this four-hour, four-question, proof-based test. Sankar said that the Prize and the Olympiad, require slightly different approaches. “There is more room for creativity to do the Olympiad problems and you can just sink deeper in them,” Sankar said. Ahn and Sankar will participate in the Olympiad this coming November at Gunn.

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