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School of Mathematical Sciences

International Women's Day - five women in maths you should know about

The theme for International Women's Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion. Here we look at five female mathematicians from a range of backgrounds and each of their journeys in mathematics. 


Nalini Joshi

Nalini Joshi is a Burmese-Australian mathematician known for her work in non-linear differential equations and integrable systems. Her love of maths began as a child in Myanmar and continued when she moved to Australia aged 12 when she would often contemplate and read about big scientific questions.

Joshi has been vocal about promoting diversity and inclusion in academia throughout her career. She co-founded the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative, and challenges problems she and others encounter as a woman of colour.

Ruth Fairclough

Ruth Fairclough is a mathematician and former actuarial analyst who is Head of the Mathematics at the University of Wolverhampton. She grew up with dyslexia and following an accident aged 17 she uses a wheelchair.

After studying mathematics at university she became an actuarial analyst in the finance industry. She held this job for several years but due to facing discrimination and struggling to balance work with a growing family, she returned to university to be a lecturer in mathematics. 

As a lecturer, Fairclough taught modules in financial maths, statistics and probability, and after 11 years was Head of Department. She is an example of an academic with a non-linear career and holds her role with a BSc(Hons) from Cardiff University.

Sian Lewis

Sian Lewis is the lead data scientist, machine learning engineer and analytics manager working at the global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. She specialises in using Python for machine learning, deep learning and predictive analytics, and has landed her the role of data manager for dozens of political campaigns across the US.

Lewis is a prolific mentor and activist, with roles and responsibilities such as a data science instructor with General Assembly, providing new resources and recruitment channels for women in data science. She also contributes to many groups dedicated to mentoring and supporting women, LGBTQIA+ community and people of colour in business and STEM.

Eugenia Cheng

Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician, author, scientific educator and musician best known for her public outreach and aims to rid the world of ‘maths phobia’. She promotes teaching maths in a philosophical and open-minded method as primarily a way of logical thinking.

Her perspective on maths has led her to publish four books on topics ranging from feminism to teaching maths with cooking.
In 2007 to moved away from a traditional career in maths to become Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In this role she continues her research in higher category theory and teaches maths classes tailored to art students.

Maryna Sergiivna Viazovska

Maryna Sergiivna Viazovska is a Ukrainian mathematician. (1984- ). Excelling in mathematics as a child she entered the Kyiv Natural Science Lyceum no. 145, school specialising in mathematics, physics, and computer science and went on to study mathematics at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

After postdoctoral completing research positions she solved the sphere-packing problem in dimension 8 (2016) and, in collaboration with others, the sphere-packing problem in dimension 24 (2017). As a result of her work Viazovska has received numerous awards including  New Horizons in Mathematics Prize (2018), the Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics (2019), and became the second woman to win the Field medal in 2022.



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