Here’s to the women who defy the odds to pursue their passion for maths – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor

Fiona Tatton

Part of the leaky pipeline

Hello, and welcome to issue 99, which is all about awesome Women in Maths (and I also sneaked in some women with a mathematics background who have moved into other fields). The Women in Maths issue is always a strange one for me. I’m speaking to all these incredible women who chose to keep studying maths, and eventually work in the field, but I am one of the guilty ones. I am part of the leaky pipeline, yet I loved maths until I began to feel that it didn’t love me.

First female Fields medal winner

Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani in Seoul, 2014

Over the past year we have sadly lost Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields medal (the maths equivalent of a nobel prize) for her work on complex geometry and dynamic systems. How sad that we should lose such an incredible mind. Let’s hope that other women follow the wonderful trail she blazed.

The ‘Women in Math’ manel paradox

We have also experienced the Twitter meltdown when US-based Brightman Young University’s Women in Math club produced a poster titled ‘Women in Math’ with an all-male panel. I have to confess to having forwarded a picture of this with a screwed-up face emoji and then subsequently deleted it.

It transpires that the poster was produced by a student group who set up the event with the very best of intentions, but without perhaps having thought through the messaging. I ended up feeling incredibly sorry for the organiser, a maths student herself. The moral of the story being, if you give people a bandwagon, some of us will jump right on it. Perhaps we all need to try and remember to stay kind on Twitter.

Defying the odds

It’s great that there’s so much energy and passion around the women in maths agenda but let’s channel that in a positive way. We won’t find the next Maryam Mirzakhani without a constructive and inclusive approach. We need to help more girls and women defy the odds to pursue their passion for maths.

In this issue, we hear from more epic women who have kindly agreed to share their personal journeys and stories, including their personal triumphs and also their failures. There’s women who have used maths for engineering, for chemistry, for data science, for business consultancy, for music and more. So, what are you waiting for? Get reading…


Maryam Mirzakhani image credit – Author: Gert-Martin Greuel / Source: Archives of the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach

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