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

October 15, 2009
A long time ago, in a college that now seems to be a galaxy far, far away, I started my college career thinking that I was going to major in physics. While I did go on to earn a minor in the subject, it wasn’t long before I realized that I could apply the same math used in physics to study the economy, and I changed my major to economics, going on to earn a Ph.D. in the field. Besides, when I was in high school, I had gone so far as to take out a classic economics textbook from the library and read it, for fun. I guess I should have known that economics would grab me in the end.
October 9, 2009
This one week when I was ahead of myself and wrote my entry early in the week, and, what do you know, I find myself changing it at the last minute. I was so intrigued by Dana Campbell’s column yesterday talking about what may be the truth behind the idea of well-educated women “opting out” of high-pressure jobs in order to parent that I wanted to write some thoughts in reply to it. She did a great job of summarizing the discussion that started in the Washington Post last week, and went on to suggest some thoughts of her own.
October 1, 2009
Ok, so I admit it. I am not a good cook, and, on top of it, I spend a lot of time driving my daughter around to various lessons and even doctor’s appointments. Although I know better, the other day I drove through McDonald’s in an effort to get something resembling dinner in her. I have done the calculations of what the best deal was in order to feed her, and have decided that, at this point in her life, the Happy Meal offered the right size portions for the best price, with options not available otherwise.
September 24, 2009
The term “altruism” is used in economics to describe the situation where one person’s well being depends, in part, on the well being of another, perhaps leading to donations of time or money. In contrast, the term “impure altruism” is used, without any sense of judgment on the giver, to describe a situation where the giver improves their own well-being not just from the improved state of the recipient, but also from the act of giving itself.
September 17, 2009
One of the first things I learned upon becoming a mom was that I needed to be much smarter than I am. I needed to become my child’s advocate in many arenas, and some of these were areas that I had no knowledge of. For example, I needed to become, in many ways, my daughter’s primary care physician, looking out for her health as I assembled the information presented by doctors of different specialties. For the job of being my daughter’s advocate, I often found myself relying on sources ranging from books to the internet to my wonderful colleagues.
September 10, 2009
Last week, my first grader came home with thoughts about math (I love it when she does that!) She said that, since one hundred plus ten was “one hundred and ten”, that, therefore, infinity plus ten must be “infinity and ten”. Of course, infinity is not a number that can be added like one hundred, so the analogy did not hold. Indeed, infinity is one of those math concepts that lead one to wonder if they are studying math or, perhaps, instead studying philosophy.
September 3, 2009
Last week, as classes started, I performed an experiment that I always use on the first day of each of my classes in statistics.
August 27, 2009
When I returned from a campus visit for what became my first academic job, highway construction forced us to get to the airport by detouring through the downtown. Along the way, the man who would become my department chair pointed out important sites. Somewhere between another university and a revitalized downtown area was the Cleveland Clinic. He told me that the Cleveland Clinic was a world-class hospital, on par with the Mayo Clinic. I listened politely, but could not imagine that I, a healthy 27 year old, would need to know much about a big hospital.
August 21, 2009
Calculus, which I begin teaching again on Monday, is the world of the infinitesimal. Rather than asking about changes over a decade, year, or even second, we ask about changes over lengths of time and space that are so small they approach lengths of zero. We can then talk about changes that happen in an instant, or even a point.
August 13, 2009
In economics, we draw a graph matching the various prices that a good could be sold at with the quantity of that good that people would be willing to buy at each price and call it a “demand curve.” Sloping down, this demand curve can shift for many different reasons. Some of these reasons include changes in the income of the consumers involved, changes in the prices of substitutes or complementary goods, or changes in popularity of the goods themselves. For example, I suspect that the demand curve for horse-drawn carriages has shifted greatly since the advent of the automobile.

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