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Bay Area girls thrive in math competition

  1. August 19, 2009
  2. Lyanne Melendez, Reporter
  3. ABC-7 KGO-TV, 5:00pm News Program
  4. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/education&id=6973663

A Math competition took place in China in which winning the gold is as prestigious as winning at the Olympics. Four Bay Area students came home today from the 2009 Math Olympiad for girls.

Their fans, a small number of them, were in place with banners. The award-winning teenagers tried to impress them by putting on their medals while getting cues from this TV crew.

Their knowledge of math has given them this new found fame.

"In other fields like music or writing literature, you see plenty of female figures, but like usually in math and science, like there aren't enough female figures," said Shiyu Li from Cupertino High School.

The Simons Foundation supports research in science and math. [Film footage from the team's trip to China, courtesy of the Simons Foundation]. The 8th annual Girls Mathematical Olympiad took place in China. Other countries like Russia and the Philippines also sent teams.

The U.S. had seven members and four were from San Jose and Cupertino.

"It was a prove contest so you had to prove eight different problems in eight hours," said Ramya Rangan from the Harker School.

Li got six out of eight right and that got her a gold medal. Even with her brain power, Cynthia Day was a little nervous.

"I was afraid I would do particularly worse on the team, but it turned out ok," said Day.

She still managed to get a bronze medal.

These girls are doing away with the notion that boys are better in math than girls. They have come a long way since Barbie say "math is hard."

The Berkeley-based Mathematical Sciences Research Institute sponsored the U.S team.

"As the years go by you look at the number of women that are professional mathematician that are getting their post docs and Ph. Ds, that's increasing and it's not because humans are changing, it's because the society is changing," said Robert Bryant from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.

Carolyn Kim was on the U.S. team. She says her world isn't only about math.

"I actually watch a lot of TV. I probably watch more than I should," said Kim.

She's now Harvard bound.

Here's a word of advice from Patricia Li, an incoming MIT freshman.

"There is no stereotype, so don't let it hold you back," said Li.

This is the second year in a row that every member of the U.S. girls' math team has won a medal -- pretty impressive that most of the U.S. team is made up of girls from the Bay Area.