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Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the first-of-many dept.

Math 75

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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here we go again... (3, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 3 months ago | (#47658647)

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

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658677)

Obligatory XKCD:
Purity [xkcd.com]
(Gender politics is off somewhere to the left of your screen bezel)

Re:here we go again... (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Where are the Africans / the Chinese ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658825)

The five winners are -

One Iranian
One Brazilian
One Austrian
Two Indians

Okay ... where are the Africans ? Where are the Chinese ? Are they freeloaders ?

Re:Where are the Africans / the Chinese ? (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 3 months ago | (#47659051)

okay, what did the bartender say?

Re:Where are the Africans / the Chinese ? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 3 months ago | (#47662545)

okay, what did the bartender say?

"Do you think this is a fucking joke?"

Re:here we go again... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658959)

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 enter in to their Mathematics Olympiad and excel.

In fact, the article referenced has only the 1 or 2 sentences above discussing 'gender imbalance' but otherwise speaks highly of an intelligent & amazing PERSON, how is it that the summary in Slashdot should only focus on the 'gender imbalance'...self-fulfilling prophecy...if you want to focus on that feel free to do so I'd rather people focus on her accomplishments not her gender.

Is there a need for all these PC things ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659469)

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 please leave Math and Science alone ?

Re:Is there a need for all these PC things ? (5, Insightful)

Calavar (1587721) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Is there a need for all these PC things ? (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 3 months ago | (#47661543)

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 you're willing to bet the future of the human race on a personal belief. I on the other hand want to see proof of what you claim.

Could you imagine how different the earth would be today if we had two Fermats, two Euclids, two Poincares?

Hell, why stop there? I'd aim a bit higher: two hundred Einsteins! Imagine what the world would be like if it wasn't how it is!

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.

No, it's activism. It's you putting some naive notion of equality together with a linear extrapolation on the number of geniuses to claim a justification for messing with a system of knowledge that's been evolving for nigh on two thousand years.

Personally, I want my mathematicians to be socially awkward, highly pedantic, focused individuals who would be happy to live three quarters of their adult lives in a darkened room full of books (aka a library), have people to cook for them and tidy their bedrooms. And to be honest, those qualities probably select for white, male, and privileged in our current world, but I don't care.

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47664279)

I am an Iranian FEMALE Ph.D student. For those people that believe western propaganda against Iran, I have some information:
1) According to recent data released by Iran`s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, over 60% of the university students in Iran are FEMALES who are doing Science, Medicine, Arts and Humanities and Engineering in B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D levels.
2) Public universities in Iran are much more demanding to enter by students in Iran because they usually have more experienced, knowledgeable, famous professors and better scientific environment plus extensive government funds. Although there are private universities with less challenging entrance exam, after National Entrance Exam for public universities, all admitted students to PUBLIC universities, roughly about 3 million, will receive FREE accommodation, almost FREE meal and NO TUITION FEE plus as said very well scientific environment.
3) Although there are some inequalities in the number of women working in the faculties as professors, this is mostly because of the culture of Persians. Iranian people are very family oriented. Men are hard working to provide their families with all they need and also contribute to the education and training of their children. On the other side, women help their husbands to manage their jobs and also if they feel the husband needs more help, they would go and work and share the kids related responsibilities. Over 80% of women in Iran are married or gonna be married soon under their 30s. Less than 1% of couples are unmarried. It is not accepted in the society neither in the culture that you live with someone who has no formal relation to you. Contrary to the rest of Middle Eastern countries, the marriage usually gives Iranian women a peace of mind as well as off course responsibilities about their life which let them go and enjoy higher education. I always advise my fellow friends to go to have a touristic trip to Iran and see how surprising is the difference in what they discover about Iranian people and what they have been told.

Re:here we go again... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 3 months ago | (#47660155)

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 inequality thing", if it was a short comment or a major theme for her. All we can say for sure is that journalists decide what they want to write about, and they make it look like it all came from the interviewee.

In the end, it's about selling magazine stories, and writing what the readers will like to see so that they are willing to give away some of their hard earned cash.

Re:here we go again... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47662349)

as to the second, ~50% of the human population is female, yet there have been dozens of Field Medallists. [...] If you are only able to see one or the other as important, you may wish to review your reasoning.

Ok, lets review my reasoning.

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.

In other words, while the population as a whole may be ~50% female, the population of mathematicians who pursue careers that can lead them to a Fields Medal is not split 50/50 male/female. So the lack of female medalists of the Fields Medal has nothing to do with sexism at all, and is simply a result of female mathematicians taking different paths in their careers.

Now, if you have some evidence that female mathematicians who were eligible for the Fields Medal were passed over just because they are female, then please present it. Otherwise, you might want to shut up now. Because the more you talk, the more you reveal that you are simply pushing an inequality agenda.

Re:here we go again... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658815)

No we can't, I have no time for feminazis however we need to acknowledge that we need smart women to have more children because due to the influence of the chromosomal distribution of brain and cognition related genes the mother's contribution to her offspring's intelligence may be greater than the father's.

We need to accept this and publicly acknowledged it before we can reconfigure our society to remove the current disincentives that result in naturally talented women choosing career over family when with the right society they could have both.

However if you disagree feel free to breed with some bimbo trophy wife, and then spend the rest of your life regretting the money and effort you put into your cretinous offspring.

And on a side note, people may be interested in reading about, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia

   

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658941)

MOD PARENT DOWN.

Wikipedia article is a link to an ancient Egyptian philosopher, rather than a clarification on their point. Parent is sexist and hiding behind fact-checking.

Re:here we go again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659251)

parent is a whiner!

MOD HIM DOWN!

please!

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47660087)

Parent is redundant. MOD HIM DOWN!

Re: here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659261)

Applied biology or applied bullshit.

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47661149)

Women may contribute more to their offspring than males, but males can create more offspring....

They way to do it is to create a society where intelligent men are used as studs and get a nice harem to make babies with, and the remaining men are neutered to make sure they don't breed.

Sexist and disgusting? I'm sure some will think it is, but this is EXACTLY how breeding for a certain characteristic is done.

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658833)

No!!. Girl power!! Pink ribbons and ponies. Boys suck!!

Re:here we go again... (3, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | about 3 months ago | (#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?

Re:here we go again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659127)

I'm not really fellin' this sexed up Hollywood/Bollywood production atmosphere about yet another prize that's apparently gone the way of yet another a vehicle to advance the lefty libtard agenda of multiculturalism, feminism...
remember Obama and the Nobel prize?

In related news, I'm also not feelin' the usually understated, overly cautious math geeks throwing around terms like "truly spectacular...mind-blowing...better than world-class...".
I mean WTF?

Re:here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47660063)

I'm not really fellin' this sexed up Hollywood/Bollywood production atmosphere about yet another prize that's apparently gone the way of yet another a vehicle to advance the lefty libtard agenda of multiculturalism, feminism...
remember Obama and the Nobel prize?

In related news, I'm also not feelin' the usually understated, overly cautious math geeks throwing around terms like "truly spectacular...mind-blowing...better than world-class...".
I mean WTF?

OK, then give us the names of some people who you feel deserved the prize more than these five and explain how their work was better then the work of the winners.
I'm serious. If you can't do that, then you just made up some bullshit. Please return to your continuing failure at auto-fellatio.

It's legitimate. (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47660103)

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]

BREAKING NEWS: Mistake found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47666027)

A typo in the last paragraph of the paper. It's supposed to say "easy" and it says "esy". Does that make me the actual Field's medal winner??? Nah, just kidding. Congrats to Maryam Mirzakhan!!!

BREAKING NEWS: Mistake found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47666173)

Congrats to Maryam Mirzakhani!!! Missed the i when I was copying. Oops.

Re:here we go again... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47660211)

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.

Re:here we go again... (0)

jandersen (462034) | about 3 months ago | (#47661143)

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 often being seen as 'a high and lonely destiny', something very dry and focused on the achievements of single individuals, which probably appeal a good deal more to men than to women. And it doesn't help either, that the Fields Medal is only given to researchers under the age of 40, when many, especially women, feel they have more important things on their minds; perhaps that should be revised upwards, not least because we now expect to live productive lives far longer.

Age limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658655)

The original idea behind the under-40 rule was to encourage further work from mathematicians not yet "over-the-hill" in their careers. But math is no longer a young man's game, if it ever really was. And like TFS says, the rule tends to be sexist in practice too.

Re:Age limit (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 3 months ago | (#47658741)

its only sexist in the sense that people dont considers a man in the raising of a child, which in itself is sexist. As a father I would love to get time off to spend with my kids, but i dont have that option in america ( i hear in germany they get paternity leave though) im not sure how a rule that is age based is somehow sexist unless one is to really really stretch

Great things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658657)

Sure, anything rather than pumping out more man-monkeys. We have enough already.

of ffs (2)

kuzb (724081) | about 3 months ago | (#47658663)

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

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

"Good math doesn't know gender" (3, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | about 3 months ago | (#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] .

Re:"Good math doesn't know gender" (0)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#47659435)

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 said this openly how many other professors felt the same way but kept quiet about it, or those who felt that way subconsciously, or those who had a slight bias, and so on.

Re: "Good math doesn't know gender" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47661685)

At university, around y2k, there was one math student who openly said that he didn't like being in classes with girls, because "they hold me back". He went on to get a PhD.

she is from Iran. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658669)

she is from Iran.

it's good that a woman one the fields medal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658697)

I'll leave it to the crowd to cite the 20+ male candiates that were more deserving.
In much the same way Obama was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a society that sometimes you gotta go with your gut, even when you KNOW the consequences. Really, i'm not complaining. This type of behavior explains QM in much simpler way. Although Spooky action at distance was not a racist remark when Einstein said it.

Re:it's good that a woman one the fields medal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658831)

Go fuck yourself. How about that.

Re:it's good that a woman one the fields medal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659045)

Look, if it upsets you that much, post your address and we'll be glad to mail you a hankie. A nice pink one to go with your politics.

Re:it's good that a woman one the fields medal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47660939)

how about you kill yourself instead?

Cue the misogynists in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658707)

Three...two...one...

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658717)

Good Wilma Hunting

Good thing Robin Williams just hanged himself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659029)

That way, there's a pretty good chance that you will see that movie again soon.
This time you may actually realize that the main character rejected the future of Fields Medals and working for the NSA, as well as a life of a construction worker who gets drunk with his palls and gets into fights - "cause he had to go see about a girl".

Also there's that whole thing about him being molested and abandoned as a child and the traumas stemming from that, and him learning to cope with it all.

it's Fields' medal (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 3 months ago | (#47658719)

they can award it or haul coal with it if they want to.

A woman won the Fields.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 3 months ago | (#47658899)

for outstanding mathematical achievement?

Go figure....

-

-

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

Re:A woman won the Fields.... (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 3 months ago | (#47659025)

It's not a very good pun.

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

Re:A woman won the Fields.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 3 months ago | (#47659219)

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...

Re:A woman won the Fields.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659413)

Yes folks.. I'm here all week.

Oh my. I need to go over there for, um... I'll be back in a week!

So why did she win? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47658943)

Or are we too caught up in how she is a woman to actually acknowledge her success?

Re:So why did she win? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659095)

More likely we're too caught up in political correctness to acknowledge a case of affirmative action. Which is what most of these "The First (fill in the blank) to (fill in the blank)" stories turn out to be.

Re:So why did she win? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47661775)

And what proof do you have that she didn't deserve this?

Congratulations! (4, Funny)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 3 months ago | (#47659061)

Let's celebrate like topologists --- with donuts and mugs of coffee!

Re:Congratulations! (4, Funny)

the phantom (107624) | about 3 months ago | (#47659197)

Why are you being so redundant?

Men and women not the SAME!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659067)

Men and Women are not the same. Men tend to spread out wider both dumber and smarter then the mean aka they have larger standard deviation then women in both intelligence and sanity level. Scientist who don't want to be harassed, believe it is due to the missing genes duplicate copies on the Y chromosome vs X chromosome. Cells tend to randomly pick one chromosome or the other in women, but in men they have to use the genes on the only X chromosome. If this chromosome is abnormal the male will have those treats which might give a potential for super intelligence or stupidity, but a women will show the same level of abnormality because of only around half her cells will follow the abnormal gene, if they are not present on both chromosomes.

Now for those women who have two super intelligent giving genes, they are less likely to reach there potential then a man with one super intelligent because of social conventions. So this two factors explain why women are less likely to be super successful in life but at the same time less likely to be total losers.

Re:Men and women not the SAME!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659087)

but a women will show the same level of abnormality because of only around half her cells will follow the abnormal gene...

but a women will show a lesser level of abnormality because of only around half her cells will follow the abnormal gene...

I blame having only one X chromosome on my poor language skills, please forgive me.

Re:Men and women not the SAME!! (2)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 3 months ago | (#47659195)

The bullshit is strong with this one. Maybe link to some actual research instead of talking out of your ass about things you don't understand. Like, for instance, this article which debunks the idea that men naturally have a higher variance in intelligence: http://www.pnas.org/content/10... [pnas.org] . It turns out that whole idea was based on one flawed study from the 80s, but since it matched so well with the world view of a bunch of privileged white guys on the internet it spread like wildfire. Do some of your own thinking for once maybe.

Re:Men and women not the SAME!! (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 3 months ago | (#47659689)

Men and Women are not the same. Men tend to spread out wider both dumber and smarter then the mean aka they have larger standard deviation then women in both intelligence and sanity level.

This is a hypothesis. You are stating it as a fact.

The evidence for this hypothesis is, at the moment, quite weak.

Evidence for this hypothesis would be best found by examining a society in which males and females are given identical treatment, and not given different social cues childhood or raised to different expectations. I'm not sure where you find that society.

Not a surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659083)

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.

We should ignore this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659105)

Just like every previous one. Gotta treat everyone the same now, don't we?

Also first time Fields Medal to Latin America (4, Interesting)

aod7br (573614) | about 3 months ago | (#47659113)

Artur Avila is the first field Medal ever to a latin american.

First FEMALE recipient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659229)

Woman is not a gender adjective. Woman is a freaking noun. All of you morons posting about how smart she is and you don't know shit about grammar.

mod 0P (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47659543)

Troubles of those their partiNg tO say there have

Scant wiki page (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47660115)

I think she deserves a somewhat larger wiki page.

The proof (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 months ago | (#47660167)

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.

Why I Think Maths Has Been Unpopular Among Women (2)

Shlomi Fish (3362) | about 3 months ago | (#47660605)

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 mathematician or other real scientist is more about deducting and inventive thought than about memorising.

    Finishing a maths degree requires a complete buyout into the system, which risks transforming the students into Captain Nemo [wikipedia.org] s who are cynical, destructive, people who think they are a "nobody", which is what "Nemo" means in Latin. Also see what I wrote about it in a different context [shlomifish.org] .

    Now girls are by their nature, have been more unwilling to become Captain Nemos, and also realise that in this day and age, being an amateur [paulgraham.com] , who are people who love (= 'aime') what they do, and/or who cut corners and disobey the rules, or are willing to produce somewhat less stellar results, is much better than being a professional, which is a mostly 20th century fad. It is well known that in many fields of endeavour some people who are underage, and/or inexperienced, and/or less professional can beat the pros at their own game: software development, music, acting and film making, martial arts and other combat fighting, modelling, writing (blogging, novelling, etc.), being a waiter/waitress/shop clerk/shop vendor/etc, cooking, even sports. And yet maths education in our f***ked-up university system believes that a mathematician should be a "Captain Nemo"-like professional than a happy, well-rounded, polymath, amateur (a.k.a a "geek").

    You can also see what I wrote [shlomifish.org] about amateurs and hackers (a.k.a "Action heroes" in a different ccontext.).

  2. Another problem is the fallout from Euclid's reported “There is no Royal road to Geometry” [sciencemeetsreligion.org] adage. Thing is, when teaching maths, you can and should skip some stuff and show the cool stuff. There is no need to teach the very basics and instead one can skip stuff. I recall that we didn't learn the Jewish Bible from its beginning to its end, and we also skipped eras when studying history, and stuff like that. A lot of the material I had to learn in my Electrical Engineering degree, such as the physics of semiconductors proved of zero utility to my work as a software developer, and later on as a writer/entertainer/philosopher, which is what I am now.

There are other problems with the academic world: instead of collecting donations at the end of the lectures or otherwise getting a motivation to be popular (like philosophers did at ancient times), the so-called scientists/philosophers are getting tenured positions, and don't want or need to try to improve (which makes their students unhappy). Currently, the world's best philosophers (or in their modern name: "scientists") are the various entertainers of the world: actors, screenwriters, authors, bloggers, models, musicians, T.V. celebrities, YouTube/etc. artists, talk show hosts, etc. etc. 50 or even 20 years from now, people are more likely to remember a famous actor, directory, blogger, or even - model - than a university professor of philosophy, which I cannot name a single one, and do not care to remember any one of them. And many more people are likely to read or watch an interview with Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Candica Swanepoel [wikipedia.org] , or even - Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales [wikipedia.org] etc. than they are with an obscure, and likely boring, contemporary professor of philosophy.

This does not have to be this way.

Why I Think Maths Has Been Unpopular Among Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47662323)

WTF??? Memorizing in maths? Are you nuts? Or are you talking of second tier math courses (maths for non-mathematicians)? I don't know what university are you talking about, but mine trim the useless in the first couple of years, and whoever tries to memorize ANYTHING is guaranteed to fail, miserably.

Re:Why I Think Maths Has Been Unpopular Among Wome (1)

neminem (561346) | about 3 months ago | (#47663207)

Hey! What's wrong with being nobody? (See my username.)

What is more prestigious - Abel or Fields? (1)

ayesnymous (3665205) | about 3 months ago | (#47660671)

I thought it was Abel, but I saw an article today saying it was Fields.

Re:What is more prestigious - Abel or Fields? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47660975)

The Fields medal is the most prestigious award for mathematics. Think of it as equivalent to a Nobel prize. Indeed, the lack of a Nobel for mathematics was an impetus for establishing the Fields.

Undo Bad Mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47661665)

n/t

It's all about who did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47661833)

Yup, have to tout the sex of the person who won versus the achievement. Slashdot is starting to really get mired down in this PC stuff.

Re:It's all about who did it (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 3 months ago | (#47664353)

Could be worse - If you were watching French TV you'd have been bombarded with the factoid that there are more French Fields winners than Americans.

metal of the medal (1)

ecloud (3022) | about 3 months ago | (#47665155)

It would be appropriate if the medal was made of Field's metal [wikipedia.org] .

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