ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Leaders with the Orlando Math Circle say they have been working hard to get girls and young women excited about math.

The nonprofit group, which is working to foster diversity in its math club, provides students with events, activities, and online classes, and has many members who are girls and young women.

What You Need To Know

  • Orlando Math Circle leaders say they have focused on getting girls and young women involved in, and excited about math

  • Over the last few decades, data show that women have made great strides in STEM fields

  • Some high-achieving students take part in mentorship and research opportunities at the University of Florida

High school senior Isabella Delbakhsh said she first got involved with the Orlando Math Circle in the fifth grade after the organization held an event. There, she said she learned that the group is not just about equations, but also about fostering a community.

"I don't think I had ever seen that," said Delbakhsh, a Lake Highland Preparatory student who will be attending Stanford in the fall. "So, to be able to experience that at such a young age, especially through a community of people who looked like me, I thought was really important."

There are plenty of women who lead the ranks of Orlando Math Circle. In fact, one of group’s board members, Dr. Jami Valentine Miller, was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University.

"I feel like we have a direct impact in helping diverse learners see themselves in mathematics and other STEM fields as possible careers," said Valentine Miller. "Students can bring their parents out and see some of the fun parts of math, not just all the equations."

Orlando Math Circle leaders say the nonprofit has strong partnerships with the University of Florida, where they provide mentorship and research opportunities to high-achieving students in the community.

This week, Delbakhsh and other young women will be presenting a symposium at the college. Delbakhsh's research focuses on how a lack of oxygen and other factors affect cells in the lungs.

On top of its partnership with UF, the Orlando Math Circle focuses on bringing math events to Title 1 schools, where math festivals may not ordinarily be available.