We have a special interview for August, last month of summer. Also, welcome to the seventh post for the Inspirational Corner. I am very happy to see how many lovely people have taken some time to answer our questions and share their passion for mathematics. Hope you enjoyed our sixth interview with Susan. Today we have a special guest – Chhavi Vig, the creator of MathbyMath, a new blog full of creative content which you have seen on our Facebook page a couple of times already. We hope you will be inspired by her journey and all her enthusiasm for mathematics.
What is your name? Where are you from? Give us a little background story.
I am Chhavi Vig and I am from India. I have done my Masters in Mathematics from St. Stephens College, Delhi University. I was always good at math but my love for this subject developed during college. I started enjoying it when I started my major in Mathematics. I started to understand the subject better and hence I was motivated to learn and explore it. It was in college only that most concepts made sense to me and I understood the ‘Why and How of Math’ and that was when it started to interested me.
Out of all the subjects, why Mathematics?
That is the question which I have been asked so many times whenever I tell anybody that I have majored in Mathematics. The fact that you don’t have to cram anything in Math (except for the formula, of course) and you can sail through this subject smoothly solely on the basis of understanding the basics, has always fascinated me. Whatever you understand stays with you forever and that is the reason Math, if understood once, never leaves you. This is the reason I have always been fascinated by Math.
What is your opinion about all the stigma against mathematics? Where do you think it starts and how does it affect today’s generation decision regarding a career in math?
I get amused when people take pride in the fact that they are not good at Math and that Math is not their cup of tea. As soon as people get to know about me being a post-graduate in Math, the first reaction is always quite shocking as if I am not one among them and as if I have come to this planet with some super powers. Many times people have even asked me why did I pursue Math as girls generally are not good at it. There are so many stereotypes attached with this subject that it’s really hard to change people’s mindsets. The fear of Math starts from home when parents fill their children’s mind with the notion that you need to work hard on Math as it is a very difficult subject. If they have not liked Math in their school/college time, chances are that they will transfer that fear onto the child, knowingly or unknowingly. The child who has not even stepped in the classroom yet comes with the mindset that he is going to not like the subject without even exploring it on his/her own. The resistance is in the mindset only – this needs to be changed.
Have you experienced any other push back as a woman interested in mathematics? Would you like to speak more about this?
There is a commonality in people’s responses whenever they get to know about my qualification. People always get amused when I tell them that I took Math as my major subject at college and that I like doing Math. It’s hard for them to accept that someone can like doing Math, especially a girl, because according to them girls are more inclined towards Linguistics and not Sciences. Nobody specifically discouraged me. On the other hand people label you as a superhuman for being good at Math, which surprises me.
Towards what part of mathematics do you feel more attracted to and why?
I like all branches of Mathematics but I have always been fascinated by Algebra.
How would you counteract the negative stigma math has in our younger generation?
I really want to contribute in changing the way people perceive Mathematics, in whatever small capacity. To be honest, I always liked Math as a subject but this love was always between me and Math. I never thought of how people perceive Math and why they are scared of Math until one day when my nephew came to me to understand something from his 8th grade Math syllabus. I was stunned to see that children do Math without any understanding of the underlying concept which is the most dangerous thing because that is the cause of all the fear and hate for Math we see around. I tried explaining a few basic concepts and then let him solve some questions. After this he could solve the questions easily and even attempted some higher order questions without hesitation. That day I decided that I need to do something in this direction even if it is a small bit. Afterwards I started a blog, “MathbyMath” where I post articles about the reasons behind the fear for Math, some of the common mistakes people make in Math, what can be done to develop love for Mathematics and so on. There is a long way to go as I have just started.
What is the hardest part about writing a blog about mathematics?
I am writing a Math blog just to let people know that mathematics is something not to be afraid of. I just want to give them this confidence, that if done in the correct way, anybody can learn math. I think this is the hardest part: to convince people to like it. I want my articles to be motivating enough and simple enough so that they can reach the maximum number of people.
What is your final destination career-wise?
Apart from starting the blog, I am also headed to start my YouTube channel through which I intend to explain the basic concepts of Math to different grades. I wish to be around my subject and keep doing stuff that encourages people to pursue Math.
Before you go, take a look at some of the blog posts you can find on Chhavi’s blog:
Hope you liked this post. Have a great day. If you would like to participate and share your love for mathematics for our Inspirational Corner, send us an email at email@example.com now. You can find us on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. We will try to post there as often as possible.
Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!