31 Dec 2013

Women mathematicians around the world, a gallery of portraits

Written by Sylvie Paycha



It is often tougher for a woman to become a mathematician than it is for a man, especially in some parts of the world where the few women who make their way up in academia as a mathematician are therefore remarkable women.

I have had the chance to meet various women mathematicians around the world who have impressed me beyond mathematics, as human beings. I would like to report here (with the protagonists’ approval and without claiming any objectivity) about the scientific trajectories of some of them and the joys or difficulties they encountered in their careers. One of them is actually a theoretical physicist, and I am very pleased she accepted to join this gallery of portraits.  Some of these portraits show the impact of the socio-economic environment and social prejudices on women’s careers as mathematicians or physicists but they are also testimonies of the joys experienced by these same women in doing mathematics  or physics in spite of the difficulties they might have encountered along the way.

I would like to thank Cheryl, Dusanka, Françoise, Jie, Karin, Luz Myriam, Sasha, Sujatha, Min Ping and Yukari, most warmly for taking the time (that they actually do not have!) to answer my questions and Evgeniya Dyachenko for her valuable help in editing this gallery of portraits.

Sylvie Paycha, University of Potsdam, December 2013

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