The first woman to win a Fields Medal: Maryam Mirzakhani
Finally breaking the most common stereotype, Maryam Mirzakhani a mathematics professor at Stanford University,of Iranian descent, became the first female winner of the Fields Medal. Receiving the medal is considered equivalent to winning a Nobel Prize in Mathematics. She received the honour at a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday.
The vice president of the International Mathematics Union, Christiane Rousseau, told The Guardian “It’s an extraordinary moment. Marie-Curie had Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry at the beginning of the 20th century, but in mathematics this is the first time we have a woman winning the most prestigious prize there is. This is a celebration for women.”
Mirzakhani, revealed that as a child she wished to pursue literature and not mathematics, it was in the last year of her high school that she decided to take the subject seriously. She was born and bought up in Tehran, Iran; she states that her school staff was extremely motivating. Her school principal made sure that both girls and boys got equal opportunities to grow.
[Picture Courtesy: Daily Life ]
Most of Mirzakhani’s work revolves around geometric structures on surfaces and their deformations and won the prize for her “outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”- as reported by the International Mathematical Union.
She reveals that as a child she struggled with maths for years, before she developed a keen interest in the subject. She adds, “I can see that without being excited, mathematics can look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers.”
Mirzakhani feels that the social barriers for girls who wish to pursue mathematics still exist and along with that work-life balance too poses a huge challenge for them as well. She believes these to be the main reasons for the lack of women in the field. Hopefully, her success will now inspire more girls and we will see another woman achiever in Mathematics soon.
ORIGINAL SOURCE: The Guardian