Bryn Mawr and Spelman Colleges have received support from the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue a program whose explicit purpose is to increase the number of women minority students who successfully complete graduate programs in the mathematical sciences. This program, entitled "Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE)," is designed to strengthen the ability of the targeted student population to successfully negotiate the transition from undergraduate to graduate education in mathematics and to succeed in graduate programs. Attrition for minorities and women is disproportionately high, and students who are not successful in one program are often lost from the pipeline altogether.
From 1992 to 1995, Sylvia Bozeman and Rhonda Hughes, co-directed the NSF-sponsored Spelman-Bryn Mawr Summer Mathematics Program. As a continuation of this effort, the two institutions addressed a persistent problem, namely, the attrition of talented women from graduate programs in mathematics by establishing the EDGE program in 1998. The EDGE program admits recent recipients of a Bachelor of Arts/Science degree in mathematics who are entering graduate programs in the mathematical sciences.
In order to realize its goals, the program helps students develop a stronger background in the basic areas of analysis and algebra. In addition, it establishes mechanisms to provide prospective female graduate students with (1) a clear understanding of what will be expected of them in graduate school, (2) the basic tools needed to increase both their confidence and their ability to compete in graduate school, (3) a support network aimed at keeping them in the mathematical sciences once they have begun their graduate work, (4) a broad perspective about mathematics and its connections to other disciplines, and (5) an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses under stress, in group study, and in a competitive environment.
The structure of the program involves two basic components: (1) an intensive summer program, and (2) a follow-up mentoring program. The Summer 2002 program at Bryn Mawr College will include two four-week core courses; a mini-course on a selected area of mathematical research; and problem sessions aimed at preparing participants for graduate qualifying exams. The subsequent mentoring program will involve graduate institutions in the identification of appropriate mentors who will serve as advocates for the program participants from the beginning of their graduate studies. A continuing support network will be provided by the co-directors, student participants, and graduate student mentors.