Mathematics and Women : Different regions, Similar Struggles


Contribution by Marie-Françoise Roy (Europe)

to Panel discusion at ICWM 2014


Issues and opportunities for women in mathematics in Europe


  • stereotypes in education and family

  • few women in mathematics in doctoral programs

  • very few women among university full professors

  • many scientific top level meetings not including enough female speakers

  • few women in the editorial boards of the most influential mathematical journals

  • low women success rate  in the International awards and international competitive grants 

  • no systematic improvement of the proportion of women in mathematics in spite of progress in some countries


  • very different situation in various european countries, good practices in one country can be used to improve situations in other countries

  • official policies encouraging the presence of women in science, more and more often as an indicator of excellence

  • centers for mathematical meetings available for women in mathematics initiatives (summer schools, general meetings, specialized meetings)


Question : given the progress observed in the 25 last years, what is the best way to go on ? Does it remain relevant to have women only organization ? Organizations specifically devoted to women in mathematics ? Should not we instead work entirely inside national/continental mathematical organizations ?


What are the existing organizations in Europe ?

European Women in Mathematics (EWM) is an international association of women working in the field of mathematics and aims at

  • encouraging women to study mathematics.

  • supporting women in their careers.

  • providing a meeting place for like-minded people.

  • promoting scientific communication.

  • cooperating with organizations with similar goals.

  • gathering and providing information on women in mathematics.

  • giving prominence and visibility to women mathematicians in Europe, and spreading their vision of mathematics and science

Founded in 1986, EWM is a network with several hundred members and coordinators in over 30 European countries. Every other year, EWM holds a general meeting and a summer school. A newsletter is published at least twice a year, EWM has a website and an e-mail network. See


The European Mathematics Society (EMS) has also a special committee for Women in Mathematics. See (see also the blog


EWM and EMS have a joint scientific committee.


What can be done at an intercontinental level ?

  • make perennial the initiative of International Conference for Women in Mathemativds (ICWM)

  • help the regions/countries without specific organizations for women in mathematics to create one

  • create links between continental/regional organizations for women in mathematics

  • contribute to the new International Mathematical Union (IMU) Women in Mathematics website and improve it.

    How to achieve these goals ? A suggestion: to create IWM (International Women in Mathematics), a network connected with IMU?