• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Sharing a Moment of History (or Not)

Statistics lessons.


November 10, 2016

When I created the syllabus for my Statistics class a few months ago, I noticed that I would be teaching confidence intervals and “margin of error” on the day after the presidential election was over. Not wanting to switch topics, I still felt bad that I would not be able to talk about polling errors, since the election would be over and the topic no longer relevant. Little did I know that the election would lead to a real “Dewey defeats Truman” moment for us statistics geeks. Some thoughts on what happened were recently published by the same people who almost perfectly predicted the World Series last week.

The people of Cleveland, Ohio spent the days after the World Series in a daze. One professional my husband knows left a message on his phone that said “you can try to reach me if you want, but my mind is still on the World Series.” Indeed, it seemed that everyone was in a state of emotional “hangover” as they faked their way through those days and began the usual Cleveland mantra of “well, wait until next year.” However, I admit that I was not as upset as some after I found an article that brought me to tears.

It focused on a fan from Chicago who had memories of his father, who died when he was young, pronouncing to him that “someday, the Cubs will be in the World Series, and when they are, we will listen to it together.” To make sure that would happen, this man drove all day to the cemetery where his father is buried. He sat by the grave in the veteran’s section of the cemetery and listened to the broadcast on his phone from a lawn chair near his father’s grave, with a flag supporting his team nearby. Reading that almost made me ok with the fact that Cleveland did not win the World Series this year. After all, there is still next year.

While it did not take anywhere near the same amount of effort, I worked to make a memorable moment for my daughter this past week. Indeed, my effort was quite the “geek” answer to what that man from Chicago did. After her sports practice on Tuesday night, I made sure that we stopped by Clinton campaign office in our town. Although it was kind of late on a school night, I wanted her to be there to experience what it was like to have a woman run for the highest office in the land. When she suggested that we just go home, I told her that we needed to do this; not for me, not for her, but for her grandchildren, who I would probably never meet, so they could hear from her someday what it was like the first time a woman had a serious chance of being elected to the position of President of the United States.

While those statements remain true, things did not work out as I had hoped for the “bonding” moment, and not only did we not elect a woman for president, but several local candidates that our family supported lost, including one that my husband had spent the day holding a sign for in cold rain. It was not the special moment when she would become politically aware that I had hoped to share with her.

However, this is Cleveland, Ohio, and our mantra is “wait ‘til next year.” While there are no political races next year, there will be some in two years. I don’t think it is unrealistic to say, in thinking of women gaining positions of political power, “wait ‘til the next election.” And, despite what happened this week, I hope that she will be there with me when that last glass ceiling finally cracks.

      Wishing all of my readers a Happy Veteran’s Day, and all of my fellow citizens a congratulations on having survived a long election season.


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