Constructing a Secure Mathematics Pipeline for Minority Students

William A. Hawkins

American myths about mathematics which emphasize innate ability rather than hard work reinforce racial and gender stereotypes about who can do mathematics. The author gives several examples of prominent mathematicians and physicists whose lives contradict the common conception that all prominent contributors to the progress of mathematics and science were geniuses whose talent was apparent virtually from birth.

International comparisons show that all American students lag behind their foreign counterparts. Details of these comparisons and how they have influenced reform in mathematics education are considered. Focusing on minority students, barriers to achievement in mathematics are discussed as well as statistics on minority underrepresentation.

After a description of efforts of the Mathematical Association of America to increase the representation and participation of minorities in mathematics-based fields, the report closes with suggestions for teachers of mathematics at the precollege and collegiate level.


Hawkins, W. A. (1995). Constructing a secure mathematics pipeline for minority students (RBDM9504). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Constructing a Secure Mathematics Pipeline for Minority Students
William A. Hawkins


  1. Mathematics is no different from any other human endeavor. Hard work is the key to longlasting accomplishment.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards so your students can take advantage of the tremendous changes taking place in the K-12 mathematics curriculum.
  3. Access multicultural materials detailing the mathematical accomplishments of non-Western societies.
  4. Encourage mathematical talent among minority middle and high school students through mentorships and advanced intervention programs.