Putting Women into the Equation -- Impact of Women Mathematicians on Research and Education in Mathematics -- REFLECTIONS
Photo Credit – Banff International Research Station
At the Banff International Research Station, over three days, March 16-18, Canadian and American mathematicians met to uncover and highlight women, past and present, who have made major contributions to mathematics. Participants presented talks about women mathematicians from history, of varying backgrounds and mathematical interests. Some talks deconstructed myths around what it means to be a mathematician, pointing out that stereotypical mathematical folklore focusses on the lonely male genius and leaves many women and minorities out of the equation. Cryptography and mathematical biology, both of which have historically and currently featured many women mathematicians, were discussed, and many more math areas with significant contributions of women mathematicians were included. The participants were enlightened about various programs and initiatives around North America which aim to uplift and connect women in mathematics, at various levels of their academic careers. There were many opportunities to connect with others, and many personal and moving stories were shared about the challenges of being a woman and/or minority in mathematics. The workshop ended with three parallel working groups: (1) Mentorship and networking in mathematics; (2) A course on the history of women in mathematics; (3) Expressing math and art. Working group (1) involved discussion around existing formal and informal networks, and how to find people to collaborate in research with, as well as the importance of finding mentors outside of one’s institution. Working group (2) began with some formal criteria for the course, as well as higher level discussions around the importance of this course. Working group (3) explored a proposed play by a workshop speaker and facilitator which presents the lives of three mathematicians from three different centuries. Following the working groups, all participants attended a panel session by the working group leaders to summarize the main themes that arose from each session. Because of this workshop, many fruitful relationships have been forged that could result in ongoing collaboration of the members and further promotion of the important contributions of women and minorities to the field of mathematics. Equipped with new awareness and knowledge about many women and minorities mathematicians, it is certain that history needs to be adjusted and that the contributions of these people should be included in curricula and the media.
Photo Credit – L. Beltaos
A suggestion to have the second workshop in two years was well received.
Written by Hannah Brown