I never had little brothers, so I was totally not used to hearing a lot of cussing at a young age! I learned what 'pull my finger' meant the hard way.
I noticed there were so many people, especially women, who would come up to me having recognized me from TV and say, 'I heard you were a math person, why math? Oh my gosh, I could never do math!' I could just see their self-esteem crumbling; I thought that was silly, so I wanted to make math more friendly and accessible.
People talk about 'getting rid of the old image', and I guess there's some merit in that. But the truth is that people loved 'The Wonder Years' - I can't turn my back on it.
I had done quite a bit of research about math education when I spoke before Congress in 2000 about the importance of women in mathematics. The session of Congress was all about raising more scholarships for girls in college. I told them I felt that it's too late by college.
J. B. Smoove