Woman, Maths, & Nobel Prize – A Rare Combination First time
All of a sudden, the News feed of almost all social media platforms recently showed most of us the image of an Iranian female Mathematics Professor at Stanford, and The first woman, Maths, & Nobel Prize winner the rarest combination flashed across our minds.
Some shared it as a proud moment, some were amazed, some ignored and some had a doubt too. But very few of us actually clicked those articles and read it fully to check out what actually happened:
- The recently announced travel ban (currently on hold) by the newly elected United States’ President Donald Trump has affected scientists from the seven blacklisted countries including Iran
- Among the affected, one was Iranian female Maryam Mirzakhani
- Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields’ medal, named after Canadian mathematician John C. Fields
- The Fields’ medal is also known as Nobel Prize of Mathematics
- This award is given every four years since 1936, to honor excellence in mathematicians under the age of 40
- Up to four outstanding mathematicians can be honored at once, but 2014 is the first time a woman has been honored with the prize
- Maryam Mirzakhani won the 2014 Fields medal at the age of 37
- The International Mathematical Union honored her after she discovered new advances in the theory of Riemann surface
- She actually dreamt of being a writer at early age and was brought by her brother in science when she found it interesting
Her winning this prestigious award was tentatively a sign of women making a change globally, breaking the stereotype, and it succeeded to some extent too, but not in India, at least. As India had its Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and saw Shri Narendra Modi being elected as Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and almost all of the media houses, newspapers and social platforms were used as a tool to make politics dirtier by almost all political parties. So, Indian media or social media could not highlight this change about a woman making a historical change.
It is sad that even today, after around 3 years, Indian media highlights due to a political reason – Donald Trump and travel ban issue.
Let us enlist the glorious journey of the wizard Maryam Mirzakhani here (source – India Today)
- Mirzakhani began to make a name for herself internationally in 1994 and 1995 when she competed in the International Mathematical Olympiads
- She won gold at the International Mathematical Olympiad. It is the world’s most honored math tournament for pre-college students
- She got her undergraduate degree at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran
- Mirzakhani later went off to Harvard University to get her Ph.D. with her thesis on the geometry of moduli space
- She now works as a professor of mathematics at Stanford
- Her studies have potentially innovated different areas of subjects and topics like mechanical engineering and material science
- She continues her work on similar topics, including hyperbolic geometry, topology, and both the dynamics and the geometry of Riemann surfaces
- She’s known for doodling on giant sheets of paper when working on math problems.
In an interview with Stanford News, she said, “This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years. I think it’s rarely about what you actually learn in class, it’s mostly about things that you stay motivated to go and continue to do on your own.“