We know there is a gender imbalance in Mathematics and we are working hard to get more girls, women, and non-binary folks onto our Maths programmes. To mark International Women's Day 2022, we spoke to final year student, Nia Patel, about her experiences as a young, female mathematician.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?For me, International Women’s Day is about recognising the amazing community of women we have in the world today. It’s a time to unite, to celebrate the good times and uplift each other through the bad. International Women’s Day is also the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of gender bias and educate ourselves on how we can promote increased equality for women in the workplace and beyond.
As someone born at the turn of the century, when did you first become aware of gender bias?I’d say I first learnt about what gender bias was in high school during PSHE lessons. Even though I’m lucky in the sense that I haven’t experienced gender bias so far in my life, it’s still an issue that I continue to educate myself on, especially as I begin my journey into the working world, where gender bias unfortunately continues to be a prominent issue.
Did you ever think twice about a degree in maths because of the gender imbalance?It had crossed my mind while I was in high school, especially as there was a significant gender imbalance in my A Level maths classes (I was one of 3 girls!). But once I started at university, I was immediately proven wrong. I met so many amazing women on my degree programme, many of whom I’m still friends with today, and I think that just goes to show how diverse Queen Mary’s School of Mathematical Sciences is.
What can we do to encourage more young women and girls to study maths?For me, one of the best ways would be to for female university students who study maths to visit schools across the country and share their experiences with younger students. I believe maths is one of the ‘underrated’ degrees; not many people are aware of the opportunities in the mathematical space, or of the vast range of careers that you can pursue with a maths degree. Who better to tell the story than female students?
You’re in your final year and looking at graduate employment. How do you feel as a young woman about to embark on a potential career in recruitment?It’s nerve-wracking. Being completely honest, I’ve had my fair share of imposter syndrome lately, but I’m definitely excited. I’m ready to begin that chapter in my life. Working in recruitment will allow me to continue working with students, something I’ve really enjoyed whilst being a student ambassador for QMUL, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds!