#56 Imagine a World where Kim Kardashian Loves Math with Vanessa Vakharia

allison loves math podcast Nov 23, 2021

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Can media subtly alter the way you perceive something?

Internet and technology have made the world a global village. With constant access to media and the fast pace of changing trends, subtle impressions of the way women are represented in math and STEM are still impacting our students' views of math. 

This episode features The Math Guru, Vanessa Vakharia. The author of Math Hacks, Vanessa appears regularly on national television and news outlets as an expert in math education and speaks globally at conferences about re-inventing media representations of women in STEM. Her goal is to totally change math culture so that STEM is finally as cool and accessible as every single Taylor Swift song. 

Tune in to this jazzy conversation with Vanessa, where we discuss inappropriate representations of math in the media and how you, as a teacher, can help students grow beyond that.

Allison and Vanessa discuss:

  • The influence of media on young minds [2.15]
  • Inappropriate representations of math in media [3.35]
  • How mainstream fashion brands are influencing mindset for math in kids [11.15]
  • How can you, as a teacher, can counter these negative representations of math [12.56] 
  • How Vanessa became the Lady Gaga of Math despite failing in math twice [19.36]


  • Being good at math doesn’t equal doing crazy mental calculations.
  • We are showing kids the only way a woman can be good at math is to be weird.
  • Being around somebody with a different perspective on math can make a huge difference in our kids’ experience with math.

Assignment for Students

  • Perform a character sketch of a character from a movie or TV series who is good at math. Write about the interests and background of the character, along with the plot of the story. Have the students present their findings and discuss how the characters who love math were portrayed. Bonus question: If you could rewrite these movies or change the character, what changes would you make?
  • Show a math movie and discuss how it portrays math.

Connect with Vanessa Vakharia a.k.a The Math Guru

Book Resources

  1. Raise your Math Grade: Get this FREE short book, which is a toughen-up math manifesto mixed with you-can-do-it enthusiasm. It is an open educational resource, meaning you can share it freely with friends, students, and colleagues. 
  2. Crush Math NowOrder this best-selling Amazon book! It is a study guide packed with all the advice Allison has given students over the years on math mindset, study skills, and test-taking strategies.
  3. Love Math Journal: Get this growth mindset journal to help 4th-8th grade students to succeed in and love math. This journal is co-authored by Allison and Nicole Thomson, who had been on Episode# 44 Using Gratitude to Help Students Overcome Math Anxiety.

Connect with Allison Dillard