The Christian Science Monitor

Girls-only competitions build confidence – and the ranks of women in math

A participant in the Advantage Testing Foundation's Math Prize for Girls contest works her way through the exam, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Sept. 24, 2017. Source: Gretel Kauffman/The Christian Science Monitor

When she heard her name called, Megan Joshi couldn't quite believe it. 

Earlier in the day, 266 of the brightest young minds in the country – the 16-year-old Californian among them – sat hunched over desks in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's largest classroom, silently scribbling numbers and formulas as test monitors strolled the aisles.

At first glance, it could have been just another math exam at MIT. But the Advantage Testing Foundation’s Math Prize for Girls contest, held in September, had some key distinctions: Participants competed not for grades, but for $31,000 in cash. None had yet graduated high school. And, as the competition's name would suggest,

Battling the gender gapAn important tool

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