AWM Programs‎ > ‎Essay Contest‎ > ‎

Essay Contest Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:       Can male students participate?

A:        Yes – the contest is open to both female and male students.  The only gender restriction is that the person interviewed must be a woman.

Q:       Can homeschooled students participate?
A:        Yes.

Q:       Do I need to give my home address and phone number?
A:        You can use your school’s address – what is important is that we have a way to contact you (typically in March) if you win.

Q:       I teach middle school, and am encouraging my students to do this.  Do they need to use their home address and phone number, or can they use the school’s address and my phone number?
A:        Your students can use your school’s address and your phone number as their teacher: these are used to contact winners.  Typically the first contact is through email and/or phone, and the mailing address is used later.

Q:       Can I interview a relative?
A:        Yes.

Q:       Is this a scholarship?
A:        No – it is a contest.  There is a monetary award, but it doesn’t have to be used for schooling.

Q:       How many winners are there?
There is one First Place Winner in each category (Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate) and a Grand Prize Winner chosen from among those three First Place Winners. There are also typically 0-3 Honorable Mentions in each category.

Q:       What are the prizes?
        The winners (including honorable mentions) receive a monetary prize, a membership in the Association of Women in Mathematics, a certificate, and their name and affiliation published in the Newsletter for the AWM.  In addition, all of the essays are published online and the Grand Prize winner‘s essay is published in the newsletter.

Q:       How do I find a woman to interview?
        If there is a woman in mathematics that you know, you can tell her about the contest and ask her to interview.  If you don’t already know someone, you can look at nearby businesses (financial, actuarial, insurance, etc.) and schools, possibly checking online, and see if there are any women in mathematics who would be willing to be interviewed for the contest.  One advantage of this is that you can interview the woman in person, which some students prefer.

Q:       I’m having trouble finding someone to interview.  Can you help?
        Yes – you can request the name of a woman to interview.  This will likely be someone in a different region, so interviews would take place remotely (e.g. skype or phone).  Contact Dr. Joanna Bieri (the interviewee coordinator) at for more information.

Q:       What is the Request Deadline?
        The Request Deadline is the deadline to request contact information for a woman in mathematics who has (already) agreed to be interviewed.  This is an option for students who wish to submit an essay but aren’t able to find a woman to interview on their own.  This deadline is several weeks before the deadline for submitting essays in order to allow time for the student and interviewee to find a common time for the interview (which may take place over phone or skype, since matches are not usually in the same geographic area).

Q:       How do I submit my essay?
        Use the form online.

Q:       Can I send an email with my essay as an attachment?
        No – there is a risk that it would get lost.

Q:       Can I enter more than one essay in the same year?
A:       No; each student should only submit one essay.  If a student does enter more than once, typically because there was a mistake in the first entry, the most recent entry is used.

Q:       If I won a prize, can I still enter the contest again? 
A:       Yes, but you should interview another woman and then write a new essay.