SFU PhD alumna strives to close gaps in mathematics education for women

March 03, 2022

Dr. Sheree Rodney has had a passion for school and teaching since childhood. However, her interest in mathematics education became apparent while pursuing teacher training studies. At the time, there were very few teacher candidates with an interest in mathematics. She saw that as a gap and an opportunity to make a difference.

Dr. Rodney completed a PhD in Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She credits this with providing her opportunities to explore contemporary developments in learning theories and technologies relevant to the teaching and learning of mathematics. But she deems her most valuable experiences to be the connections she made with people from diverse backgrounds who were willing to share experiences and engage in discussions. The mentorship she received from faculty members, Prof. Nathalie Sinclair and Prof. David Pimm, whom she describes as exceptional role models, played an instrumental role in her academic success and will always hold a special place in her heart.

Since completing her PhD, Dr. Rodney has moved on to postdoctoral work, where she engages in research with an interest in digital literacy, social justice, curiosity, and mathematics. She is a cofounder of Global Education Perspective, an online platform providing international exposure to pre- and in-service teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. She also remains integrally involved in professional development training for teachers in her home country, Jamaica, and in the embryonic stage of developing a mentorship program for girls in STEM in Jamaica and Canada.

When asked about women in STEM, Dr. Rodney confides that she struggled with confidence as a student. The most challenging encounters she’s had involved the stereotyping of ability and perceived ideas about career choices. “It’s a well-known fact that society positions women in ‘nontraditional’ career fields because of the perception that males are superior in knowledge and skills,” she shares.

In order to attract more women to STEM careers, Dr. Rodney believes schools and universities must provide equal opportunities and support for girls.

“A career in a STEM field is a humbling and rewarding experience especially when you can see the impact of your work” she says. “For this reason, I would encourage more women to get involved in STEM careers.”