Just spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!
Chapter 6 - Discussion, Recommendation, and Implications (page 81 of my dissertation)
One reoccurring theme that was evident from most of the participants' responses was the need to know mathematics in order to "pay bills and count your money". This simple view of the importance of mathematics may by one reason that African American girls do not pursue mathematics on higher levels. The need to "get a job" and to "make money" appeared to be the only reason the study of mathematics was important to the participants. If African American girls perceive mathematics as important only because they have to know how to count money and pay bills and not as an avenue for a variety of educational and occupational opportunities, they will not actively pursue mathematics. In trying to get students to understand mathematics, teachers may have overemphasized to these African American girls how mathematics relates to everyday life and ignored the connections between mathematics literacy and career flexibility.
For these African American girls to seek out mathematical opportunities beyond the obvious, they need innovate and creative teachers and role models to help them make the connections. African American girls have the potential and academic ability to become leaders in the mathematical community. However, the key is to alter the way they view mathematics at an early age. If African American girls are to become women with an interest in mathematical related careers, their views of mathematics must start to become more wholistic and meaningful.