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Attention, Math Geeks: Businesses Want You

Academics

Attention, Math Geeks: Businesses Want You

There might have been a day when math geeks felt awkward and defensive. But today, when you see one of them wearing a shirt that says, “Math illiteracy affects 7 out of every 5 people," you know those days are over.  

Jokes like that demonstrate a new confidence among people who can do math. And it's a joke you might want to get in on.

That’s because nowadays business leaders are looking hard for people with a strong math background and, what’s more, having one will give you a lifelong edge in the world, according to Lucy Kimball, Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Wilder Teaching Professor.

And, she says, combine math ability with a business skill set and you are good to go. Here is why:

1. You’re a great catch in more ways than one.

Employers are learning that a person with math skills is invaluable, says Kimball. Today, mathematicians can expect a median income of more than $100,000 and a 23 percent job growth rate by 2022, according to a survey by CareerCast, which refers to the “exponentially growing popularity of mathematics” in fields such as technology, healthcare, sports, and politics.

A math major with a solid grounding in business is even more attractive, says Kimball. The market is now demanding a combination of quantitative skills alongside a mastery of business fundamentals, she says.

You can achieve this type of powerful insight by studying math through a business lens, says Kimball, whose department operates on this premise.

“Our students get the applied spin on math,” she says. “We cover the same mathematical topics you’d study in a liberal arts or an engineering environment but we take a more business-oriented approach.”

For instance, she says, at Bentley University a math major studies subjects such as calculus, linear algebra, statistics — but also learns how mathematical theory applies to business operations and analytics.

Students develop a skill set that allows them to move easily into many fields, she says. “You need business so you know the problem you are trying to solve. You need math so you know the right technique is being applied.”

2. You’re in high demand with few rivals.

“People are trying to figure out how to make sense of data and advance their company,” says Kimball. But there aren’t enough job candidates out there who can think in both a math and business mindset to fit the bill, says Kimball.

And that’s good news for you.

“Oh my god, such a shortage is wonderful,” she says. “Doing the math is the fun part — and now its value within the business culture is gaining recognition.”

According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers the top 15 highest-earning degrees have something in common: they all involve math.

Indeed earnings are best among people who are strong in both math and leadership abilities, according to a recent paper cited in the Harvard Business Review.

Opportunities abound for the math-oriented business graduate, Kimball says. “It makes things exciting to know that you can go out and do one of those jobs.”

3. Get a handle on math and the rest will come.

Math is a driving force in our culture and knowing its language will enrich your life and heighten your ability to master new things, says Kimball.

Mathematical principles, which are based in logical reasoning, help you develop strong analytical and problem solving skills, she adds.

Math provides a means of understanding the world and draws us together in the use of the only universal language we share.

“I am incredibly biased,” she jokes. “I think it’s just the best thing you can ever do. When you are good at math, you have a solid foundation. And once you are able to master it, you’ll find that it’s really fun.”

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