By Vritti GoelCo-Editor-in-Chief
Hilary Duff’s song “The Math” blasted through the speakers of Garrison Theater on Friday February 11th as members of the Harvey Mudd community—along with smatterings of the rest of the Claremont community—milled together before taking their seats. When the lights were dimmed, Gary Kelly, Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and his associate Angelica Ibarra, took the stage to welcome the audience. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, also spoke a few words of welcome to Harvey Mudd students and their families and to kick off the Harvey Mudd College Family Weekend festivities. The topic of this particular evening’s event? A one-woman autobiographical play… about math.
“Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through M.I.T.’s Male Math Gaze” was written and performed by Gioia De Cari, the woman who had experienced difficult times at MIT because of her gender. From the get-go, Ms. De Cari commanded the stage with her loud voice and her expressive acting. She made her debut in the theater when she was an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley and worked through her life at M.I.T. As the only actor on-stage, Ms. De Cari made use of her acting experience and aptly portrayed the various characters of her 75-minute play. The audience journeyed with her through her first experiences in the male world of the MIT Math department, laughing with her as she described the outrageous fashion experiments she performed while in school, and gasping in outrage at old-fashioned comments from professors and other students at MIT. While Ms. De Cari did not receive her PhD in Math, she did graduate with a Master’s degree in Math, and held her audience spellbound as she walked through the events that led her to change her mind and pursue acting and singing instead.
The funny, touching, and very pertinent play was followed by a panel discussion in which Ms. De Cari was joined by Gary Kelly and female members of the Harvey Mudd community—trustee Jennifer Lindsay (HMC ’02), math major Sarah Warkentin (HMC ’12) and math professor Rachel Levy—to discuss further the challenges facing females in the math world.
Harvey Mudd brought Gioia De Cari and her solo show to Claremont as part of a fun event for the Harvey Mudd Family Weekend. While Scripps College’s Family weekend will not feature such an event, families coming this weekend will be able to enjoy a performance by the award-winning Claremont Colleges’ Ballroom Dance team, hosted jointly by Scripps College and Pitzer College, as well as performances from a cappella groups Women’s Blue and White and After School Specials.