The 8th General Meeting of EWM
December 12-16, 1997
ICTP, Trieste, Italy
The meeting was attended by about 100 participants from about 30 countries, most European countries were represented as well as Chile, Egypt, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and West Bank. Thanks to the support of the ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics) where the meeting took place, and in particular to Professor Narasimhan, participants who would not have been able to come to this meeting otherwise could this time take part, thus enriching the range of nationalities represented. As well as the financial support of ICTP we also enjoyed the warm and friendly atmosphere and the very sympathetic attitude of everyone at ICTP shown towards our meeting.
The meeting was organised thanks to the great dedication of Bodil Branner and Emilia Mezzetti, with the help of the organising committee. Besides the ICTP, UVO/ROSTE, the Università di Trieste, the Finnish Ministery of Education, Chalmers Technical University and the University of Gothenburg, and the EMS co-sponsored the meeting.
There were three sessions, one on p-adic Numbers, organized by Catherine Goldstein (with talks by Capi Corrales Rodrigàñez, Francoise Delon, Catherine Goldstein), one on Representations of Groups, organised by Michele Vergne (with talks by Maria Welleda Baldoni, Pascale Harinck, Idun Reiten, Christine Bessenrodt), and one interdisciplinary session on Symmetries, organised by Ina Kersteii and Sylvie Paycha. The latter one was organised in the spirit of the interdisciplinary session at Madrid; it contained two invited talks (by Ljudmila Bordag and Tsou Sheung Tsun) and talks suggested by participants in Trieste (by Emilia Petrisor, Tatiana Ivanova, Inna Yemelyanova, Ufuk Taneri, Valentina Goloubeva).
The poster session was an important part of the conference; unlike the traditional presentation of posters, this session offered an original view on the work and life of the participants involved in the poster project.
The discussion topic of the meeting was Women and Mathematics: East-West-North-South; as an introduction into the topic the video Women and Mathematics across Cultures was shown.
Discussions by small groups, formed roughly according to regions, were followed by a plenary discussion comparing the situation in different countries and sharing our experiences with affirmative action or equal opportunity programmes for women in academics; it also gave an opportunity to participants from non-European countries to express their wish to keep contacts with EWM.
Organisation of EWM and the General Assembly
The General assembly approved new members and confirmed the fees that had been decided in Warsaw 1993. The Standing Committee was partially renewed, Laura Fainsilber was elected as convenor and Irene Sciriha and Inna Yemelyanova were elected as deputy convenors; four international coordinators were elected Marie Demlova (central and east), Tania Vasilieva (Russia) and Marja Kankaanrinta (north) or confirmed and suggestions for regional coordinators were made that have to be confirmed on the regional level.
The next EWM meeting 1999 was decided to be held in Germany; it is planned to take place at the conference center Kloster Loccum (near Hannover), preferably in September. A proposal for the EWM meeting 2001 to take place in Russia was made.
Different tasks were accepted by some EWM members present at the meeting; the difficulty of finding funding for the work of EWM was stressed during the discussion. The need for more frequent communication in-between meetings besides the Newsletter was expressed; one means for achieving this is a short Bulletin spreading information on local activities related to women in mathematics, collected by international coordinators via regional coordinators.
It was a common wish of the European and non-European participants to keep a contact via EWM, in particular by our Newsletter and the Newsletter of TWOWS (Third World Organization of Women in Science).
There will be proceedings of this meeting covering most of the mathematical programme and a report on the discussion Women and Mathematics: East-West-North-South as well as a report on the General Assembly and information related to EWM.
These proceedings are in experimental form. All participants and regional coordinators have received a paper version of the Proceedings in early 1999. They are also available on the web page of the Hindawi with improved format and links.
During the meeting of European Women in Mathematics in Madrid 1995 it was decided to organise the next general meeting of EWM in 1997, continuing the bi-annual rhythm, but without knowing where the meeting actually would take place.
We are extremely grateful to Professor Narasimhan, director of the Mathematics Group at the International Centre of Theoretical Physics in Trieste, for accepting to house the meeting and to have it organised in collaboration with ICTP.
The Centre has a long and fruitful tradition for encouraging people — from developing countries in particular — to take up or continue a research career in mathematics or physics. The Centre provides wonderful working conditions and organises international meetings.
With the help of ICTP the information about the EWM meeting was widely distributed and we reached out to many more women mathematicians around the world than ever before. Besides the usual channels for information — the regional coordinators, the EWM web-page, the EWM Newsletter and the EWM e-mail network — a poster was produced at ICTP and the announcement was mailed to about 1500 addresses around the world and also put on the ICTP web-page.
The interest in the meeting was overwhelming. More than 150 mathematicians applied to participate. The meeting was attended by about 100 participants from about 30 countries, most European countries were represented as well as Chile, Egypt, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and West Bank. The total list of mathematical fields represented was also quite impressive. The research topics and fields of interests of the participants covered mathematics in the broadest sense, from pure mathematics to all kinds of applied mathematics, history of mathematics and didactic methods.
Over several years we have experimented with improvements in ways of communicating mathematics to each other at EWM meetings. As a result we have sessions with different topics, starting with an introductory talk. It is a big challenge to organise a session and to be a speaker addressing such a broad audience. At the Trieste meeting one of the sessions was on p-adic Numbers, organised by Catherine Goldstein, another one on Representation of Groups, organised by Michele Vergne, and the third one an interdisciplinary session on Symmetries, organised by Ina Kersten and Sylvie Paycha. While the speakers of the two first sessions had all been invited ahead of time, only two speakers were invited for the last, the extra activities that were decided during the meeting involved inputs from participants and thereby broadened the interdisciplinary aspect.
For the first time a Poster Session was included in an EWM meeting. It was organised by Capi Corrales and Laura Fainsilber who encouraged the participants to make non traditional posters, also including some personal information. Indeed, the poster session became a very colourful and important part of the conference.
Besides the mathematical activities an EWM meeting usually contains a topic for general discussion. At this meeting the topic was Women and Mathematics: East-West-North-South, organised by Marjatta Näätänen and Marie Demlova. As an introduction the video Women and Mathematics across Cultures} was shown. This video includes four interviews that were filmed during the previous EWM meeting in Madrid.
It is always difficult to obtain sufficient funding. We did not obtain enough to support all of those who were dependent on financial support from outside and who could not participate without. We are grateful for the support we received from the European Union, the ICTP, UNESCO, University of Trieste, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers Technical University, the European Mathematical Society, and a private donation of Else Hoeyrup.
ICTP offered to fully support two women mathematicians (later on this became three) coming from developing countries to take part in the EWM meeting and furthermore to stay as visitors at the Centre for a period of two months. We received more than 50 applications for these special stipends. It was extremely difficult to choose among the many well qualified women. Besides the three chosen who spent two months at the Centre, three other participants benefitted from joint agreements between their university and ICTP.
Of great value was of course the general support of ICTP by letting us use their facilities: conference and meeting rooms, library, computers, photocopying equipment, and guest houses. Moreover, we had the precious help of two of its staff members; Sharon Laurenti collaborated with us until October when Livia Zetto took over, she became responsible for most of the local organisation.
In our experience it is a different task to organise an EWM meeting than to organise any other mathematical conference. From the many letters and applications we received and from our personal experience we know that EWM can make a difference. On top of the mathematical concerns and practical matters it also becomes a more personal project to make the meeting a success. We shall never forget how Livia Zetto participated whole-hearted in our goals of reaching out and making the meeting a success. The intensive collaboration between the three of us over the last couple of months before the meeting took place worked out very well. Only when it was over we had time to reflect on how special this collaboration had been to all of us.
In our opinion, the meeting was a success, both from a mathematical and a non–mathematical point of view. We wish to thank all the organisers, the speakers, the participants and the ICTP staff for letting this happen.
Bodil Branner and Emilia Mezzetti
The complete EWM organising committee of the Trieste meeting consisted of Christine Bessenrodt (Germany), Bodil Branner (Denmark), Marie Demlova (Czech Republic), Emilia Mezetti (Italy), Rosa-Maria Miro Roig (Spain), Marjatta Näätänen (Finland), Sylvie Paycha (France), Ragni Piene (Norway), Caroline Series (United Kingdom), Inna Yemelyanova (Russia).
These proceedings contain reports on all the mathematical talks that were held at the meeting, as well as articles on the other events : the poster session, the EWM video, the discussion on women in mathematics, and information about the life and structure of the association.
They are available both on paper and in electronic form, via the web page of EWM: as Gzipped PS, or via the Electronic Publishing House.
We wish to thank the organisers and all those who gave talks in Trieste and wrote articles for these proceedings, as well as those who worked on the Proceedings of the 1995 EWM meeting in Madrid, namely Bodil Branner, Nuria Fagella, and Christian Mannes, for providing us with an inspiring precedent and with a TeX style.
Laura Fainsilber and Catherine Hobbs