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**Mathematical institutions and the “in” of the Association for Women in Mathematics.**
*(English)*
Zbl 1510.01059

Beery, Janet L. (ed.) et al., Fifty years of women in mathematics. Reminiscences, history, and visions for the future of AWM. Cham: Springer. Assoc. Women Math. Ser. 28, 325-341 (2022).

This article analyses the question what it means to be “in” mathematics, rather than just doing or teaching mathematics. In particular, institutions such as associations of professional mathematicians, scientific academies or educational organisations have contributed to defining what being “in” mathematics means. In the history of mathematics, women most often have been kept “out” of mathematics. Institutional activities supporting women like those of the Association of Women in Mathematics can make a difference.

Various examples from history illustrate how the views of institutions on what kind of positions with respect to mathematics are appropriate for women have formed the access of women to the subject. The mathematical periodical “Ladies’ Diary” (established in 1704) made recreational mathematics a space open for women. In the 19th century, elite educational institutions like the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris were established, with a focus on the “male” areas of engineering or military and with mathematics as a main subject. Women were excluded from this kind of higher education by default. Women who worked successfully in mathematics like Sophie Germain or Sofia Kovalevskaya were marked as “exceptions”, and the image of mathematics as a “male domain” was consolidated. Kovalevskaya’s eventual appointment at the University of Stockholm was possible because this was a newly founded institution not sticking to the traditional rules.

Today the visibility of “excellent” women in mathematics as role models is important. One way of making excellence visible is via major prizes like the Fields Medal. The institutions that award such prizes with their decisions shape what is perceived as excellence. An interesting story is told about Olga Ladyzhenskaya, who was on the shortlist for the Fields Medal in 1958 but missed the prize for reasons in connection with difficulties in communication across the Iron Curtain.

For the entire collection see [Zbl 1485.01005].

Various examples from history illustrate how the views of institutions on what kind of positions with respect to mathematics are appropriate for women have formed the access of women to the subject. The mathematical periodical “Ladies’ Diary” (established in 1704) made recreational mathematics a space open for women. In the 19th century, elite educational institutions like the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris were established, with a focus on the “male” areas of engineering or military and with mathematics as a main subject. Women were excluded from this kind of higher education by default. Women who worked successfully in mathematics like Sophie Germain or Sofia Kovalevskaya were marked as “exceptions”, and the image of mathematics as a “male domain” was consolidated. Kovalevskaya’s eventual appointment at the University of Stockholm was possible because this was a newly founded institution not sticking to the traditional rules.

Today the visibility of “excellent” women in mathematics as role models is important. One way of making excellence visible is via major prizes like the Fields Medal. The institutions that award such prizes with their decisions shape what is perceived as excellence. An interesting story is told about Olga Ladyzhenskaya, who was on the shortlist for the Fields Medal in 1958 but missed the prize for reasons in connection with difficulties in communication across the Iron Curtain.

For the entire collection see [Zbl 1485.01005].

Reviewer: Andrea Blunck (Hamburg)

### MSC:

01A80 | Sociology (and profession) of mathematics |

01A74 | History of mathematics at institutions and academies (non-university) |

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\textit{M. J. Barany}, Assoc. Women Math. Ser. 28, 325--341 (2022; Zbl 1510.01059)

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