Club Close Up: WaMM


Left to Right: Sophia Sorenson, Dr. Whitney George (and her baby), Josey Sorenson, Dr. Tushar Das and Alyssa Oswald. Photo by Melissa Touch (Baca).

Melissa Touche (Baca), Social Justice Reporter

“There are three kinds of mathematicians, those that can count and those that cannot, said DrTushar Das, associate professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and one of the co-advisors for Womxn and Minorities in Mathematics (WaMM), a student organization on campus 

“Math is an art and a science, and one of my favorite thing to do is work with students who say, I’m not a math person and often a lot of young women have had a horrible experience in math K-12,” said Das. “A huge part is deconstructing the myths that plagues STEM, math in particular.”  

Alyssa Oswald, a senior math major and with minors in statistics and computer science and president of WaMM said, “WaMM was created specifically to encourage and support diversity in math and STEM fields in general. Specifically, womenminorities and underrepresented groups in general to create a supportive environment to make them feel comfortable. We also do activities to support different groups but also showcase that it’s cool to do this. There are some people who think they can’t do math or not good enough to do math. 

I heard about WaMM last semester from Jess in the McNair office and she was like, hey I saw these everywhere pamphlets and I know you’re a math major and you should go to it’, and I am also a minority student, my mom is Puerto Rican. I have connections to LASO, the Latin American student org. I was very interested in being in a club for math,” said Josey Sorenson, a junior McNair scholar at UWL who is double majoring in biology and math. I’m not exactly in the math and stats club, but I wanted to be around women in math, more specificallyI just feel more comfortable around women because you go to math class and with a lot of guys. I kind of gravitate towards females more, maybe it’s just because we can relate a little more. Sometimes it feels like guys don’t take me seriously, its not a lot the time but, it definitely happens. 

“I was brought to WaMM by my sister, Josey [Sorenson], and I like to do things with her. I also think math is cool, which is why I have a math minor,” said Sophia Sorenson, a sophomore at UWL majoring in biochemistry and minoring in math. She said,” I like problem-solving and math is a different kind of puzzle.”  

All three students say they became interested in math early in elementary school 

There are no requirements to attend WaMM. The club is set up for women and minorities, however, we do have allies. So, if you are a white male you are more than welcome to join as long as you’re going to be an advocate for women and minorities in mathematics,” said Dr. Whitney George, associate professor at UWL and co-advisor for WaMM

The idea for WaMM started three to four years ago, with a student names Kelly Emerich, who is now a graduate student at Colorado State. The idea came aboutthat we really didn’t have a good network. From workshops, it became evident to her that women are discriminated against in mathematics. I think that UWL does a good job because she was kind of sheltered from this experience, that came to light through these seminars and workshops. So, when she came back, we tried to actively get a club going. We kind of played around with the idea of what we wanted WaMM to be. Last year we worked a little more and this year we became an official club,” said George 

 “WaMM was something we were really passionate about even before we gave it a  name. We’ve had a math and stats club for a really long time,” said Dr. Das. We started off as a local AWM (Association for Women in Mathematicschapter. Whitney was already a member and I became a member and that’s how WaMM started, as a local chapter for a national organization. More students interested every semester. Recently, we have done something really exciting with La Crosse Community Theatre. They reached out to us because they were doing a play called ‘Proof’, and as the title may suggest, it had something to do with math, its about mathematics and a relationship between a father and his daughter. It also is about being a woman in mathematics and struggling with mental health and the stereotypes of being a woman with mental health issues and being in mathematics. WaMM produced some beautiful posters which are on display at the Weber center.”  

For more information about WaMM, please visit their MyOrgs page