Friday, August 22, 2014

First Woman to Win Fields Medal

The world of STEM recently welcomed its first ever women recipient of the prestigious Fields Medal.  Sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics,” the Fields Medal is the highest international prize in mathematics.

Fields Medal recipients are recognized as the top mathematic scholars from around the world.  Given by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), the most recent winner is Stanford professor, Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani. 

Dr. Mirzakhani made history by being the first woman to win the ‘Nobel Prize’ of mathematics.  The previous 52 winners have all been men. 

This event is not only significant for Dr. Mirzakhani, but for the STEM world as well.

IMU president Ingrid Daubechies stated that Mirzakhani’s accomplishment is “hugely symbolic,” and “hopes it will encourage more women to get into mathematics because we need more women.”

Even though Mirzakhani’s success is a breakthrough for women in STEM, her achievement is all too rare in these male-dominated fields.  A recent study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that nearly 40% of female engineers with degrees leave their jobs prematurely or never apply at all.

This occurrence can be contributed to a lack of appropriate mentoring for young women as well as social bias towards male mathematicians and scientists.

Hopefully Mirzakhani’s victory will be one, not only for herself, but also for all women throughout the STEM world.

For more information on the Fields Medal, visit:

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