Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win the Abel prize. The 76-year-old won it for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape. For those who do not know, Abel is the most important prize in the field of mathematics. By winning it Uhlenbeck has indeed created history and has also paved the way for many young girls to dream big. For long this field has remained male dominated and suffered consequences of gender bias. Works of talented female mathematicians weren’t paid any heed, but perhaps not anymore.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win the Abel prize ever.
  • Uhlenbeck has paved the way for many young girls to not get intimidated by maths.
  • Women grow up being told that girls are inherently bad at maths while boys are good.
  • The world must accept that women are as good as men in every possible field.

For long this field has remained male dominated and suffered consequences of gender bias.

Raise your hands if you still get nightmares about writing a maths paper unprepared, which makes you sit up in the dead of nights, covered in sweat. Many find the subject intimidating but that’s not all. Numerous girls grow up listening to the age-old postulation about how boys are inherently good at maths and girls are better at language. How it is used as a reason to justify a bad performance in a subject, on the basis of gender.

So if you are a girl, you have an excuse at being bad at maths doesn’t matter if half the teachers can’t teach it properly. Or that telling girls that it is natural for their gender to be bad at it only discourages them from trying to get better. It keeps them from making an effort to give it another chance, because what’s the point, women are coded to be bad at maths. But how true is that? Are women really bad in maths or STEM? Or is it an excuse to justify the almost lack of female achievers in this field, primarily due to gender bias?

So if you are a girl, you have an excuse at being bad at maths. Doesn’t matter if half the teachers can’t teach it properly.

It’s not just mathematics, but almost every field in this world is littered with the history of male dominance and neglect of female talent. Works of women in writing, academics, research and even achievements in sports and performing arts have always endured secondary treatment. They have had to fight tooth and nail to make the society hear their voices and recognise their talent. And while women have finally managed to break the glass ceiling across numerous fields, success and equal representation in fields of science and maths still eludes us. We have come a long way from women can’t do it, to women can’t do it better than men, but it is just not enough.

And Uhlenbeck’s win does that for the field of mathematics. The world now recognises her contributions. She has become part of the history and little girls will learn about her from their parents or teachers. They will now grow up believing that they can be as good as boys in maths and that their gender doesn’t make them less intelligent or apt to learning, applying and even contributing to mathematics.

Picture Credit:  MSN.com

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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