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Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the first-of-many dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that the 2014 Fields Medals have been awarded for outstanding work in the field of mathematics. The winners are Artur Avila, Manjul Bhargava, Martin Hairer, and Maryam Mirzakhani. Quanta Magazine writes, Mirzakhani is the first woman to win a Fields Medal. The gender imbalance in mathematics is long-standing and pervasive, and the Fields Medal, in particular, is ill-suited to the career arcs of many female mathematicians. It is restricted to mathematicians younger than 40, focusing on the very years during which many women dial back their careers to raise children. Mirzakhani feels certain, however, that there will be many more female Fields medalists in the future. "There are really many great female mathematicians doing great things," she said. Quanta has profiles of the other winners as well (Avila, Bhargava, Hairer), and of Rolf Nevanlinna Prize winner Subhash Khot.
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Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

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  • by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:09PM (#47658647) Homepage
    cant we just be happy for the woman instead of turning it into some gender inequality thing?

    I mean seriously this woman hit a major achievement, And its being muddled by people with an agenda, let her have her moment
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:24PM (#47658749)

      cant we just be happy for the woman instead of turning it into some gender inequality thing?

      She commented on the "gender inequality thing" herself. She also left her homeland (Iran), in part, because she knew her gender would hold her back if she stayed. It would be nice if gender didn't matter, but in the real world, it does.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        With all due respect the issues she had in Iran are irrelevant to the 'Fields Medal' at large. In fact she should be singing the praises of an 'enlightened society unlike Iran' that allowed her not just to pursue her chosen career but to excel at it and be recognized for her achievements without bias or sexism.

        And unless you have more articles or know her personally I saw nothing in the article that hinted at her being unable to complete her career in Iran, while there are hints of sexism she was able to en

        • by Anonymous Coward

          One winner out of five happens to be a female, and all of the sudden the PC themed "Sexual Inequalities" emerged

          And the fact that there were no Africans nor East Asians were among the five, all of the sudden the PC-related "Where are the Africans / Chinese" topic emerged

          For crying out loud, this is about MATH, and I am really sick and tired with people dragging sex / race / whatever into fields of Math and Science --- as these two are more to the BRAINS rather than anything else

          Please, people, can you pleas

          • by Calavar (1587721) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @12:28AM (#47660345)

            I'm not sure what you're getting at. There have been Chinese and Vietnamese Fields Medalists in the past, but until now there has never been a female Fields Medalist. There has also never been an African Fields Medalist. Both of these are indicators of serious issues. First, sub-Saharan Africa has a total lack of access to higher education (with the exception of South Africa), and second, cultural pressures often dissuade women from pursuing STEM fields in Western nations and prevent them from entering higher education entirely in certain non-Western nations.

            You could dismiss these concerns as activism, but that's terribly tunnel-visioned. Every African and every women who for some reason or another has missed out on the opportunity to study STEM is another mind that could potentially have been another Euler or Gauss but was denied the chance. Unless women are intrinsically less adept at math (which I personally do not believe is the case), we've been missing out on half the world's great mathematicians. Could you imagine how different the earth would be today if we had two Fermats, two Euclids, two Poincares? How much knowledge have we lost for the lack of women in math and science? This isn't about "leaving math and science alone" from activism. This is about untapping all the math and science talent that has been hidden away for hundreds of years.

            • You could dismiss these concerns as activism, but that's terribly tunnel-visioned.

              Only for some values of terribly.

              Every African and every women who for some reason or another has missed out on the opportunity to study STEM is another mind that could potentially have been another Euler or Gauss but was denied the chance. Unless women are intrinsically less adept at math (which I personally do not believe is the case), we've been missing out on half the world's great mathematicians.

              Well I'm glad

      • She commented on the "gender inequality thing" herself.

        I'm going to guess you've never given an interview in your life? Some guy (or girl) chats with you, asks 20 questions of you about lots of different things, then excuses himself (herself). You don't hear anything more for a couple of weeks, then you get to read a writeup containing 4 or 5 of those questions, with bits and pieces of your full answers cut and pasted into a shortened "narrative".

        There's no way to know why she brought up the "gender in

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:30PM (#47658779)

      Muddled? What's muddling about it? She won a Fields Medal and she is the first woman to win a Fields Medal. These are two separate, important events: as to the first, winning a Fields Medal is indicative of superlative contribution to mathematics; as to the second, ~50% of the human population is female, yet there have been dozens of Field Medallists. As a mathematician, I consider both pieces of information important. If you are only able to see one or the other as important, you may wish to review your reasoning.

    • by twistedcubic (577194) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:06PM (#47659001)
      Why can't you be happy for the woman, AND be happy that a woman has won the medal? Does this cause you headaches or something?
    • Congrats to Maryam Mirzakhani for being the first woman to win the Fields Medal.
      Congrats to Maryam Mirzakhani for being the first Iranian to win the Fields Medal.

      I hope she is an inspiration to women everywhere and especially to Iranian women. I'm not one for hero worship but there is much real value in inspirational figures.

      And as far as I can tell, it is an undeniably deserved prize. [edit: I was going to contrast with some other prize winners but this is not the place nor time]

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      frankly all the profiles look a bit spiced up.

      like, that they have some special property to them, like being xmen or something and can "see" stuff mere non-mutants can't.

    • by jandersen (462034)

      Of course - it is a great achievement for any mathematician. However, the gender imbalance in Maths is a real thing, and it is a shame - not because it is unfair to women, but because I think mathematical research would benefit from having more women contribute. Mathematical research is highly dependent on creativity, and it seems quite likely to me that women might bring a slightly different perspective.

      I don't think it is about women being pushed out - it is probably more about perceptions. Mathematics is

  • by kuzb (724081) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:13PM (#47658663)

    >The gender imbalance in mathematics is long-standing and pervasive...

    Enough of this stupid clickbait shit. Good math doesn't know gender.

    • by l2718 (514756) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:23PM (#47658745)
      Yes, the math doesn't know gender, but the mathematicians who evaluate each other (say for promotion or for prizes) do know. Yes, the situation today is very different from the past, but biases do exist. For a strongly worded view point on this try Izabella Laba [wordpress.com].
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        It is interesting that the Fields Medal is given to 'young' mathematicians, as an encouragement for them to continue doing good work. I think this may mean that more women get awards soon as we don't have to wait for the old guard to move on.

        Even when I was in school in the 80s and 90s I knew a professor who felt, and who would say out loud, that women really shouldn't be in the field. People at the time at least thought that was a throwback who was out of touch, but consider that for one professor who sa

  • they can award it or haul coal with it if they want to.
  • for outstanding mathematical achievement?

    Go figure....

    -

    -

    BTW - this is supposed to be a pun....

    • by MAXOMENOS (9802)

      It's not a very good pun.

      A good pun would present, on the surface, a deeper knowledge of the (admittedly complex) material.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        It's not a very good pun.

        I'm not surprised that somebody thinks my pun is bad.... My kids don't like them either.

        A good pun would present, on the surface, a deeper knowledge of the (admittedly complex) material.

        Go figure.....

        Yes folks.. I'm here all week. Please tip the waitstaff...

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:18PM (#47659061) Homepage
    Let's celebrate like topologists --- with donuts and mugs of coffee!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I studied math at Stanford. She was always the answer to the question "Who in this department will win a Fields medal next?" I wasn't really qualified to comment.

    But I guess they were right.

  • by aod7br (573614) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:26PM (#47659113)
    Artur Avila is the first field Medal ever to a latin american.
  • I think she deserves a somewhat larger wiki page.

  • I skimmed TFA to find the actual math she earned it for. The summary they give is actually pretty interesting, even though they don't go into much detail on the math. Definitely doesn't seem like a bullshit hey-look-we're-giving-awards-to-minorities-too-now award.

    This seems to be the actual paper [arxiv.org], although to be honest it's so far above my knowledge that it could be about something completely different and I wouldn't be able to tell.

  • First of all, congrats to Ms. Mizrakhani for her award, and it is indeed notable. That put aside, there are a few important reasons why I think Maths education is f***ed up in university which prevents more girls and women from doing it. These reasons are:

    1. While learning maths, the tests are given without an open material, and often require memorising proofs of many pages. This is while a good mathematician can easily look these up and does not need to keep them in his resident mind and that a mathemat

  • I thought it was Abel, but I saw an article today saying it was Fields.
  • It would be appropriate if the medal was made of Field's metal [wikipedia.org].

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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