Women's Work: Weaving Feminism and Math

Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

mathematics, education, anthropological mathematics
media studies, gender & women's studies, sexuality and queer studies

Women across history and cultures have developed and utilized sophisticated mathematics embodied in art and daily living practices like baking, weaving, basketry, and quilting, as well as in household and community management practices like project planning and budgeting resources. Though essential to successful societies, these skills are rarely recognized as legitimate forms of knowledge—let alone as "math." This program interrogates mathematics as a field of inquiry, asking what is recognized as math and what isn't, who had and has access to math, and what privileges it gives access to. We will learn mathematics through a variety of hands-on applications and engage with science and technology studies, cultural studies, and feminist theory. This program is at an introductory level, and the humanities portion will involve substantial reading and writing.

During winter quarter, we will explore the intersection of mathematics with craft and management practices that historically have been done by women in traditional and indigenous cultures. We will also explore the way in which societies throughout the world use mathematics in divination rituals, to mark time, create art, and organize community responsibilities. Through a grounding in feminist critiques (from critical theory, science studies, and women-of-color feminisms), we will examine how mathematical knowledge becomes legitimized and the ways in which power structures influence what counts as knowledge. Students who successfully complete the math portion of winter quarter will earn four credits in math for liberal arts.

In spring quarter, we will focus on the contemporary discipline of mathematics and the historical events that have shaped what is commonly called “academic mathematics,” creating new roles and invisibilities for women from the industrial era to computer age. We’ll delve into the origins and development of computer technology, and the gendered and racialized aspects of its production and consumption. We’ll engage with the complexities of current debates about women and minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and industries. Students who successfully complete the math portion of spring quarter will earn four credits in algebraic thinking and will be prepared to take precalculus I.

Program Details

Fields of Study

cultural studies education gender and women's studies mathematics media studies

Preparatory For

education, mathematics, computer science, natural and physical sciences, art, anthropology, cultural studies, and feminist and gender studies


Winter Open Spring Conditional

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$60 in winter for a photocopied coursepack and project materials; $90 in spring for two coursepacks and project materials.


2017-10-16Winter fee reduced (from $75 to $60).