By Dianne Miranda, December 4 2023—
Lauren DeDieu is an associate professor (teaching) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at U of C and has been named an alum of Avenue Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 class of 2023.
Dr. DeDieu is involved in a number of math outreach initiatives, particularly programs that are directed to encourage young girls to pursue their passion for Mathematics. In the past, she led the Girls Excel in Math Summer Camp and the Math Attack Summer Camp for Girls. She is currently leading a Saturday enrichment program, Girls Excel in Math. These programs bring together youth who identify as girls to engage in fun math activities, tackle topics they normally would not see in classrooms, and build connections and networks with the aim of instilling that there is space for girls in math.
“One reason why I like doing outreach, in general, is to show folks how much math there is and how fun math can be. I guess why girls specifically, part of the reason is that girls in math are underrepresented and in STEM fields in general, and partly to combat that. When they attend these events, they see a lot of role models in math, so whether that might be the speakers and the volunteers,” said DeDeiu in an interview with the Gauntlet.
The Top 40 Under 40 celebrates individuals involved in a multitude of sectors such as medicine, business and politics who help make the City of Calgary more inclusive, viable, vibrant and innovative.
“I am really honoured to be recognized for that. It is nice that mathematics, mathematical outreach and combating gender bias in math and STEM is recognized as being important and help our city be a more vibrant place because I think it is important”, said Dr. DeDieu. “The people we are reaching through our outreach are the future leaders of our city.”
DeDieu describes how, math teaches people not only how to think and to create logical arguments, but also perseverance and the confidence to overcome a situation one might not have been faced with before. Math is also, in a way, at the centre of so many things and applicable to many fields such as statistics, biology, mathematical finance, and computer science, among others.
“Math can be hard and when you’re in an abstract math class, you’re like, ‘wait, I don’t know how to do any of this’, but you overcome that and you do well. And if [you are] faced with anything else, even if [you] have no idea how to do it right now, [you] have the habits to do [it], which I think is applicable to any field and any job”, said DeDieu.
“If we inspire young girls and young people, in general, to be passionate about math and be passionate about STEM, then that is good because that can help make our workplaces diverse in Calgary. And if workplaces are diverse, that can lead to so many more great things.”
Looking ahead, DeDieu would like to continue leading these programs and supporting other outreach that are happening.
“One of the goals is to make it sustainable, which is a challenge. It is difficult to find funding for these, which is also a challenge. I don’t have a solution to that right now, but sort of a long-term goal is to make it more sustainable so that it happens every year,” said DeDieu.
She will be on research and scholarship leave in 2024 and one of her goals during that year is to use the time to develop a curriculum.
“A part of my goal for next year, in the short term, is to develop those materials, maybe talk to other folks that are doing this to try to see maybe what they’re doing and learn from other people, and in general to try to scale these things,” said DeDieu. “I am just one person and the events are really big which is awesome, but I want to promote math to as many folks as I can and to try to reach diverse communities as I can.”
To read more about Lauren DeDieu, to see the full list of the class of 2023 and to read about their work towards a better Calgary, visit Avenue Calgary’s website.