In one week, Baylor University will dedicate a new bust to commemorate Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes, their first African-American faculty member (hired in 1966) and the fifth African-American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics. The ceremony will be broadcast live on Baylor’s Facebook page on Tuesday, February 26th! #womeninmath#diversityinmath @bayloruniversity

More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the sector or go part time after having their first child, according to a study of how parenthood affects career trajectories in the United States. By contrast, only 23% of new fathers leave or cut their working hours.

The analysis (see ‘Parents in science’), led by Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, might help to explain the persistent under-representation of women in jobs that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The study also highlights the impact of fatherhood on a career in science, she says.

Career versus family

Given that 90% of people in the United States become parents during their working lives, Cech and Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, sought to better understand what happens to scientists’ careers after they start a family.

They used the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System, a database provided by the US National Science Foundation that contains information from surveys of the US STEM workforce every two to three years.

From the 2003 data, Cech and Blair-Loy picked the child-free scientists in full-time employment and tracked their familial status in the next wave of the survey, in 2006. This gave them two groups of scientists to compare — 841 who became parents during this period, and 3,365 who remained childless throughout. The researchers also looked at how these individuals’ careers changed between 2003 and 2010.

They report that new parents are significantly more likely to leave a full-time science career for full-time non-science careers than their child-free colleagues^{1}.

Gender imbalance

By the end of the study period, 23% of men and 43% of women who had become parents had left full-time STEM employment. They either went part time, switched to non-STEM careers or left the workforce altogether. This compared to 16% of child-free men and 24% of child-free women. The team controlled for potential confounding differences between people with and without children.

For a subset of the people who had left science, the data set also included an entry on why they had left science. Around half of the new parents in this subset cited family-related reasons, compared with just 4% of people without children.

Taken together, these findings suggest that parenthood is an important driver of gender imbalance in STEM employment, the team says.

But Cech says that this the first time research has shown the proportion of new parents facing difficulties reconciling family life with science. She adds that there is a striking impact on new fathers as well as mothers.

“STEM work is often culturally less tolerant and supportive of caregiving responsibilities than other occupations,” Cech says. “So mothers — and fathers — may feel squeezed out of STEM work and pulled into full-time work in non-STEM fields”.

A ‘structural’ problem

Virginia Valian, a psychologist at the City University of New York, says: “The results showing that fathers also leave STEM reinforces the hypothesis that the problem is a structural one, in which dedicated professionals are not expected to have a personal life, and, indeed, are punished for so doing.”

Ami Radunskaya, a mathematician at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who mentors young female mathematicians, says women can become exhausted from constantly having to prove themselves in a professional environment that is, “at best, challenging to everyone and, at worst, openly sexist”.

“These young women are smart and tenacious,” she says. “When these young women start a family, they realize that this exhaustion and stress is not sustainable.”

Radunskaya suggests several measures that could help to improve the situation. Policies on family leave should send the message that having children is expected and accepted, for example. Senior researchers should mentor junior members of staff, and people should accept the challenges women in science may face. “We need to have candid, non-blaming conversations about [these issues],” she adds.doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00611-1References

As soon as mathematician Chad Topaz ripped the plastic off his copy of the American Mathematical Society’s magazine Notices, he was disappointed. Staring back at him from the cover were the faces of 13 of his fellow mathematicians—all of them men, and the majority of them white. “Highlighting all this maleness and whiteness—what is the message that is being sent to the membership?” he wondered. Continue reading →

The 10th World Mathematics Invitational (WMI) took place at Yonsei University in Incheon, South Korea Zahra Zavieh, a student at Urmia University northwest Iran, the provincial capital of west Azerbaijan, won a gold medal for Iran, in a competition that brought together the world’s best math students.

the tournament was held in South Korea at the end of July and 54 students took part, with Iran placing 2nd in the tournament with 5 gold, 18 silver and 17 bronze medals, as well as 14 diplomas

In the latest issue of NOTICES of AMS you find an extended article about life and works of Iranian mathematician late Maryam MIRZAKHANI. Here is the link (PDF):

An algebra pioneer who faced discrimination deserves wider recognition on the centenary of her namesake theorem.

Emmy Noether was a force in mathematics — and knew it. She was fully confident in her capabilities and ideas. Yet a century on, those ideas, and their contribution to science, often go unnoticed. Most physicists are aware of her fundamental theorem, which puts symmetry at the heart of physical law. But how many know anything of her and her life?

A conference in London this week, the Noether Celebration, hopes to change that. It’s a welcome move. In a world where young scientists look for inspirational female role models, it is hard to think of a more deserving candidate.

Noether was born in 1882 in Erlangen, Germany. Her parents wanted all their children to get doctorates, so although many universities at the time did not formally accept women, she went. After graduation, sexist regulations prevented Noether from getting jobs in academia. Undaunted, for many years she lectured in Erlangen and, from 1915, at the University of Göttingen — often for free.

At the time, that city was the centre of the mathematical world, largely due to the presence of two of its titans — Felix Klein and David Hilbert. But even when Noether was being paid to teach at Göttingen and making her most important contributions, fate and further discrimination intervened: Hitler took power in 1933 and she was fired for being Jewish. She escaped to the United States and taught at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, until she died in 1935, at the age of just 53.

Noether devoted her career to algebra and came to see it in a striking new light. “All of us like to rely on figures and formulas,” wrote Bartel van der Waerden, her former student, in his obituary of Noether. “She was concerned with concepts only, not with visualization or calculation.”

Noether saw maths as what are now called structures. To her, the characteristics of a structure’s components — be they numbers, polynomials or something else — mattered less than the networks of relations among an entire set of objects. This enabled her to give proofs that applied to more general structures than the original ones, and which revealed unseen connections.

It was a new and elegant approach that changed the face of algebra. And Noether realized that it could influence other parts of maths. One was topology, a field in which “she published half a sentence and has an everlasting effect”, one mathematician wrote. Before Noether, topologists had been counting holes in doughnuts; she brought to bear the full power of her structures to create something called algebraic topology.

The results that Noether published 100 years ago were, for her, a rare foray into physics, in which she was not particularly interested. Albert Einstein had just developed his general theory of relativity, and was struggling to understand how energy fitted into his equations. Hilbert and Klein were working on it, too, and asked Noether for help.

That she did help is an understatement. Noether’s expertise in symmetry led her to discover that the symmetries of a physical system are inextricably linked to physical quantities that are conserved, such as energy. These ideas became known as Noether’s theorem (E. Noether Nachr. d. Ges. d. Wiss. zu Göttingen, Math.-phys. Kl. 1918, 235–257; 1918).

As well as answering a conundrum in general relativity, this theorem became a guiding principle for the discovery of new physical laws. For example, researchers soon realized that the conservation of net electric charge — which can neither be created nor destroyed — is intimately related to the rotational symmetry of a plane around a point. The impact was profound: those who created the standard model of particle physics, and the researchers who attempt to extend it, think in terms of Noether’s symmetries.

Some biographies inaccurately portray Noether as a somewhat helpless genius at the mercy of men’s charitable actions. In reality, she was an assertive personality, recognized leader and the first female plenary speaker at the renowned International Congress of Mathematicians.

The status of women in mathematics and science has improved since Noether’s time, but bias and discrimination remain. Too few leading female mathematicians receive the recognition they deserve. (Only one woman, Maryam Mirzakhani, has received the Fields Medal, and none has won the Abel Prize — the field’s top awards.) Noether is an inspiration: including to UK mathematician Elizabeth Mansfield, who co-organized the London meeting and works on modern extensions of Noether’s work.

We don’t know how many potential Emmy Noethers have been unfairly denied the chance to show their talents. More people should know — and should celebrate — one who changed the scientific world against the odds.

Among all dreadful news we receive every day, which make us feel pain in our hearts, sometimes there are good news that turn the light of hope in my heart. Among them are the good news correspondent to the situation of women of Middle East. The Area is by itself a dilemma and only few people of habitant of the Area really know what is happening here. Women’s situation has deeply changed, although there are so many unseen and ignored rights. I just read this news from Tehran Times and I felt happy. You cannot modernize a society without literate women. You cannot reform the culture and restructure the economy with illiterate women in which are nearly more than the half population of the society:

TEHRAN – Literacy gap between women and men is decreasing in Iran, reaching to 12 percent compared to 40 percent three decades ago.

According to the latest statistics released by the Statistical Center of Iran, in the Iranian calendar year 1395 (March 2016-March 2017), the number of illiterate women was 5,569,035 while the number of illiterate men was 3,226,518.

However, the number of literate women in the same year was 29,753,843 and the number of literate man stood at 32,912,917.

Although the number of literate people, both men and women are equal at Iranian cities, there is a great gap of illiteracy between men and women in rural areas, head of the Literacy Movement Organization Ali Baqerzadeh has said.

Currently there exists about 1,800,000 illiterate women in Iran, he noted, adding that two thirds of illiterate people are women in the world.

A large number of illiterate children below the age of seventeen are depriving from a literate mother, i.e. there exists a direct and meaningful relation between parent’s literacy and children’s lack of education, Baqerzadeh explained.

The diagram of under-three-year-old children’s mortality rate proves that children’s mortality rate has a direct relationship with the education level of mothers, he added.

I just don’t understand the two last paragraphs of the statement: “there exists a direct and meaningful relation between parent’s literacy and children’s lack of education, Baqerzadeh explained. The diagram of under-three-year-old children’s mortality rate proves that children’s mortality rate has a direct relationship with the education level of mothers, he added.”