Rosemarie Emanuele

"Math Geek Mom"

Although she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College, Rosemarie Emanuele is a professor and the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. She loves to teach math but also pursues research related to the economics of nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor, and has published in both economics and interdisciplinary journals — as well as in the book that inspired this blog. She is the proud mother of a wonderful daughter.

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Most Recent Articles

December 6, 2012
There is a concept in economics called a "leading economic indicator," in which certain economic outcomes are seen as providing information about the direction the economy is taking. For example, sales of cars or of new homes may be seen as leading economic indicators, since such sales tell us a lot of information about the willingness of consumers to purchase items that are expensive and which need to be paid off over the course of several years. I thought of this recently as I drove around our neighborhood with my husband and daughter, playing Christmas music on the car radio and admiring the different decorations that have sprung up on the homes in our neighborhood.
November 29, 2012
When I think of the “equals”  sign in algebra, I think of it as a statement that something is true. For example, if an equation says that something is equal to a number, adding or subtracting a value to or from both sides leads to a statement that is equally true. This concept of “truth” has been on my mind recently as we approach Christmas, and I find myself in discussions with fellow mothers about the idea of “Santa Claus”.
November 16, 2012
The last time I taught a class called “History of Math”, a class I rarely teach at Ursuline College, my daughter was a young child in pre-school and was perfecting her knowledge of numbers. I was struck at the time by the similarities between the way my daughter learned about numbers and the way humankind developed knowledge of numbers, and I wondered if history was repeating itself in each child, as they learned to count.
November 8, 2012
When I teach statistics, I often point out that some values we calculate have different notation depending on whether they are calculated from the entire population or a from a sample taken from that population, even if the calculations are identical in the different situations. I explain this to my students by telling them a woman’s name, and asking them if they know who that woman is. They almost always have no idea who she is.
November 1, 2012
There is a concept in geometry known as the “centroid” of a triangle. This is the point at which the lines joining the corners of a triangle and the midpoints of the opposite sides meet. If one were to balance the triangle on the tip of a pencil, it would balance at the centroid, which is actually the center of gravity for the triangle. I found myself thinking of this concept these past few weeks as I was bombarded by political ads on TV and the radio. It seems that for a few weeks, every four years, Ohio is the center of attention of the political landscape for our country.
October 25, 2012
When I was a child, a new way of teaching math was introduced and soon became popular. Often called the “new math”, this approach to math included an attempt to build up all of math from the concepts of “set theory.” Indeed, in those days, every math class began with a chapter on “sets.”
October 18, 2012
I was in college when I was first exposed to Economics being applied to nontraditional topics. One of my professors at the time was researching the topic of “envy.” It was many years before the book “Freakonomics” became popular, but that small exposure helped me to look at economics in a broader way. When it came time for me to write a dissertation, I drew from the knowledge that economics can be used to explain many things besides the workings of business firms to begin my research on nonprofit organizations and on volunteer labor. I thought of that professor’s research recently when I realized that, while we do not live in the most expensive part of town, there are aspects of our neighborhood that I would not trade for anything.
October 11, 2012
The calculus behind Economics teaches that consumers make choices so as to equalize the marginal utility per dollar spent on each of the last of different types of items purchased. Although I believe this, I was reminded recently of what I think is often an alternative decision rule I heard years ago that might better describe the way cash constrained students make decisions when seeking places for dining out.
October 4, 2012
I learned last week that the baby Panda born in the National Zoo only recently has died, when it was less than one week old. I read that the mother Panda let out an “unusual honking sound” when her baby would not wake up.  Although we are of two different mammalian species, I could i
September 20, 2012
Although less common than in the past, I sometimes still run into students who are convinced they cannot learn math. Some of these students are women old enough to be my mother, who grew up in the days when it was assumed that math was for men and not for women. I recall one woman sitting in my office almost in tears, telling me that she had never been able to do math. I pointed out that she had six children, including a specials need son, and told her that any woman who could raise six children most definitely knew how to do math. I do know, however, that my own image of myself as a non-athlete is similar to her view of herself as not mathematical, and have to conclude that our perceptions of our skills in such subjects are in many ways dependent on the time in which we grew up. I was lucky enough to have a teacher in second grade that saw that I was good in math, but never lucky enough to have a mentor who encouraged me to be athletic. My daughter is lucky to have people who do.


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