30 Aug 1999

The 9th General Meeting of EWM

August 30 – September 5, 1999
Conference center Loccum, Germany


The 9th international meeting organized by the European Women in Mathematics (EWM) took place at the conference center Loccum from Monday, August 30 (arrival day) to Sunday, September 5, 1999 (departure day). The conference center Loccum is located about 50 km from Hannover (Germany). The meeting was held under the auspices of the presidency of the Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung and was also supported by the Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik, by the EC and by the UNESCO.

See the Second Announcement (pdf).

Organizing committee

Polina Agranovich (Ukraine),
Christine Bessenrodt (Germany),
Ina Kersten (Germany),
Olga Kounakovskaya (Russia),
Irene Pieper-Seier (Germany),
Ufuk Taneri (Turkey),
Tsou Sheung Tsun (United Kingdom).

Mathematical programme of the meeting :

Helen Byrne (United Kingdom): Using mathematics to investigate solid tumour growth,
Cecilia Jarlskog (Sweden): Particle physicists’ beloved mathematics,
Rosa Maria Spitaleri (Italy): Differential Modelling in Visual Numerical Environment.
Lisbeth Fajstrup: Geometry and algebraic topology in computer science
Laura Tedeschini Lalli: Mathematical modelling in mathematics and music


Marie-Francoise Roy (France): Real algebraic geometry and Hilbert problems,
Ruth Kellerhals (Switzerland): Old and new about Hilbert’s Third Problem.
Ina Kersten: Hilbert’s problems


Maylis Delest (France): Exploring combinatorics using algebraic languages,
Ulrike Tillmann (United Kingdom): Combinatorics of the surface category and TFTs.
Andrea Blunck: Finite circle planes
Rachel Camina: Implications of conjugacy class size


Britta Schinzel (Germany): Challenges for an ideal University ,
Renate Tobies (Germany): “In spite of all male culture”: Women in Mathematics .
  • An interdisciplinary session on Mathematical modelling in theoretical physics, geophysics and biology,
  • A session on Hilbert problems,
  • A session on Discrete mathematics and its applications,
  • Discussions on the topic The ideal university,

A poster session was organized, and all participants were encouraged to present their work in this way. See the poster titles and information about the poster session.


Brief report

The meeting was attended by 50 participants from 13 European countries. It took place at the conference center Loccum, located about 50 km from Hannover. The staff members at the conference center were particularly helpful and cooperative throughout the week. The center, an Episcopalian meeting place in a rather remote setting, with rooms, meals, lecture rooms, and many different places to sit and talk in the same building, provided a very friendly and warm atmosphere, conducive to discussion.

The meeting was organised thanks to the great dedication of Christine Bessenrodt, Irene Pieper-Seier, Tsou Sheung Tsun, Ina Kersten and other members of the organising committee. It was held under the auspices of the Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung (DMV), and was also supported by the UNESCO, the EC and the Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik (GAMM).

Mathematical Programme

There were three sessions, one on Mathematical Modelling in theoretical physics, geophysics and biology, organized by Sheung Tsun Tsou (with talks by Helen Byrne, Cecilia Jarlskog, Rosa Maria Spitaleri), one on Discrete Mathematics and its applications, organised by Christine Bessenrodt and Sheung Tsun Tsou (with talks by Maylis Delest, Ulrike Tillmann), and one on Hilbert problems, organised by Ina Kersten (with invited talks by Ruth Kellerhals, Marie-Francoise Roy and an overview by Ina Kersten). The sessions were complemented by short talks delivered by participants in Loccum (Andrea Blunck, Rachel Camina, Lisbeth Fajstrup, Laura Tedeschini Lalli).

We held a poster session, chaired by Polina Agranovich, where close to 30 of the participants tried to present themselves and their work so as to be understood by non-experts and develop contacts. Many of the posters were quite creative and communicative. Abstract will be included in the conference proceedings.

General discussions

The discussion topic of the meeting was The Ideal University; two talks were given, one by Renate Tobies on “In spite of all male culture: Women in Mathematics” and one by Britta Schinzel on “Challenges for an ideal University”. These were followed by a lively discussion. One central part in the discussion was the question whether it would be good to have a women’s university (like they have existed or still exist in some countries); it became quite clear that the varied cultural backgrounds led to rather different views: In some contexts segregated education is seen as a way to offer women a space of their own which can lead to increased expression and opportunities, in others as a way to set limits for women and provide them with lower quality education.

We also exchanged ideas about ways of encouraging communication on all levels, since the lack of communication in various academic contexts seems to be a hindrance in many important aspects both in research and teaching, and since events as simple as coffee hours can help in this respect.

On Friday evening the EWM video “Women and Mathematics across Cultures” was shown, illustrating statistics on the participation of women in mathematics in different European countries and giving personal views across countries by four women mathematicians.

On Wednesday evening, we discussed the email list and its different functions for information and discussion. We decided to keep the new structure where one can opt to receive general messages of `ewm-all’ without necessarily following discussion (which can take place on the `ewm-discuss’ sublist), and to circulate every few month a message on the usage and intents of the lists. The discussion was moderated by Nadia Kutz.

On Thursday evening, we discussed age limits and the choice of pursuing mathematics as a profession. A questionnaire was developed in a effort to gather data on women and men in mathematics, comparing ages at different stages of a career. The questionnaire will now be perfected and then circulated so that the outcome can be discussed at future meetings. If some patterns emerge, this could help us in recommending changes for example in age limit policies or hiring practices. The discussion was moderated by Laura Tedeschini-Lalli.

The General Assembly

The General assembly approved new members and confirmed the present fees (1, 20 or 50 EUR). The Standing Committee was partially renewed; Christine Bessenrodt (deputy convenor), Cathy Hobbs, Irene Sciriha, Betul Tanbay, Tsou Sheung Tsun, Inna Yemelyannova, and 6 newly elected or re-elected members : Polina Agranovich, Lyudmila Bordag, Laura Fainsilber (deputy convenor), Marjatta Näätänen, Irene Pieper-Seier, and Laura Tedeschini-Lalli, with the convenor to be determined. [Since then, Irene Sciriha has accepted to be the new convenor.] Marie Demlova, Laura Fainsilber, Rosa Maria Spitaleri and Tania Vasilieva were elected as international coordinators and suggestions for regional coordinators were made that have to be confirmed on the regional level.

The planning of the next EWM meeting 2001 was discussed. The organizing committee was elected : Christine Bessenrodt, Marie-Francoise Roy, Laura Fainsilber, Tsou Sheung Tsun, and they will nominate some more members once the place is decided. Ideas for places and session topics were collected. [Since then, we have been examining possibilities in Estonia and in Cambridge.] For the meeting in 2003, suggestions for the place were made.

Different tasks were accepted by EWM members present at the meeting. In particular, Nadia Larsen and Maren Riemenschneider will edit the Newsletter. We are looking for someone to expand the web site. The difficulty of finding funding for the work of EWM was stressed again during the discussion, and a funding committee was founded It consists of Cathy Hobbs (Treasurer), Bettina Kuerner and Emilia Mezzetti. We also discussed organizing more minisymposia for women within large conferences, ideas for interdisciplinary workshops, and the possibility of organizing a forum where women close to their PhD would give short talks on their research.

There will be proceedings of this meeting, edited by Rachel Camina and Lisbeth Faijstrup. They will include the mathematical talks presented in the different sessions, poster abstracts and a report on the discussion on the Ideal University, as well as reports on the General Assembly, on the other discussions mentioned above, and information related to EWM.

Contact Address

Prof. Dr. Christine [dot] Bessenrodtmathematik [dot] uni-magdeburg [dot] de (Christine Bessenrodt)
Institut für Algebra und Geometrie
Fakultät für Mathematik
Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg
D-39016 Magdeburg, Germany
Fax +49-391-67-11213
email: EWM99@mathematik.uni-magdeburg.de

Additional Info

  • Place: Conference Center Loccum Deutschland
  • Date or Period (start): Monday, 30 August 1999
  • Period (end): Sunday, 05 September 1999