A Crisis Among Smart Girls and An Unlikely Answer

New Story Collection Spotlights STEM


We face a crisis.

Our girls drop out of math in droves between the ages 12-14.    

Astronaut Sally Ride called the “persistent gender gap in STEM fields a national crisis that will be deeply detrimental to America’s global competitiveness.”   

Children ages 10 to 12, especially girls, are the most susceptible to being ‘pushed off the track’ of pursuing science by negative stereotypes.

Now, an unlikely party would like to help.

Author and English teacher Tom Durwood offers two new collections of YA fiction filled with math-empowered heroines. He hopes to challenge and intrigue young female readers, just at the age when they wander off the STEM path.

The books’ titles are difficult: “The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls” and “The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls.” The math is real.

And who are ‘the Geometry Girls’?

They include Isoke, who uses geometry to oppose a vicious Queen of the Benin.  We also meet Simone, a candy-striper with an urgent need to find the flaws in a German tank’s design. Baker’s Apprentice Jayani gambles on her own math skills to save her beloved Third Aunt.  Shawnee Smith shows a daring plan to a famous leader and finds a surprising reception.

Each story introduces the real-world application of mathematics —  probability, Bayes Rule, financial modeling, codes and ciphers, Lanchester’s Law, and more.

For the right reader, the rewards seem genuine. Two of Durwood’s books were cited on Julie Sara Porter’s Best of Year list (Bookworm Reviews). Fellow author Jeannine Atkins writes, “Stories, mystery and math go well together… a welcome addition.” Adds Tanzeela Siddique, Math Teacher: “Exceptional … family drama disguised as adventure.”

The need is real. A recent survey conducted by Microsoft of 11,500 girls across several countries in Europe found that “young girls gain interest in STEM subjects at age 11 and then lose it again by age 15.

That’s a very small window of time to get girls excited about math and science,” according to journalist Shahrzad Warkentin.

Next up for Durwood is a “Botany Girls” collection, followed by “Aviation Girls.” Every collection will feature a Rupa story.