About May 12th — Celebrating Women in Mathematics
What is it?
May 12th is a joyful opportunity for the mathematical community to celebrate women in mathematics. The celebration takes place every year, all around the world. Why May 12th?
The goal of the day is to inspire women everywhere to celebrate their achievements in mathematics, and to encourage an open, welcoming and inclusive work environment for everybody.
How does it work?
The May 12th initiative brings together events celebrating women in mathematics which take place during the month of May. The main focus are initiatives coming from within academia. All of the events related to May 12th are organized locally.
Through this site, we hope to encourage and publicise this initiative worldwide. We will collect information about all the events to provide coordination and visibility, and also to acknowledge the tremendous work of the local organizers. We also provide some ideas and material which may be helpful to those wishing to organise an event.
Coordination of the May 12th initiative
The coordination group of the May 12th initiative includes representatives from the European Women in Mathematics, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the African Women in Mathematics Association, Indian Women and Mathematics, Colectivo de Mujeres Matemáticas de Chile and the Women's Committee of the Iranian Mathematical Society.
The coordination group members are Nikita Agarwal (India), Carolina Araujo (Brazil), Mojgan Mahmoudi (Iran), Marie Francoise Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Olga Paris-Romaskevich (France/Russia), Marie-Francoise Roy (France), Elisabetta Strickland (Italy), Petra B. Taylor (USA), Andrea Vera Gajardo (Chile), Katrin Wehrheim (US).
Why May 12th?
May 12th, 1977, is the birthdate of Maryam Mirzakhani.
“If we knew things would be so complicated, I think we would have given up,” she said. Then she paused. “I don’t know; actually, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t give up easily.”
— from interview with Maryam Mirzakhani, in Quanta Magazine
Who is Maryam Mirzakhani?
Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian mathematician and a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University. She was one of the world’s leading experts in geometry and dynamical systems. Her beautiful and astonishing results and her life and career are an inspiration for everyone, women and men, to pursue their dreams in science. She died tragically from cancer in 2017 at the early age of 40.
In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, becoming the first woman, and the first Iranian, to be recognised for her mathematical achievements by this top mathematical prize.
In the few interviews she gave, Mirzakhani spoke eloquently of the beauty of mathematics and her joy in doing it.
12th May, her birthday, was chosen to celebrate Women in Mathematics in her memory.
How was May 12 initiated?
On 31st July 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, the Women’s Committee of the Iranian Mathematical Society presented to the participants of the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics, (WM)^2, a proposal that Maryam Mirzakhani’s birthday – May 12th – be recognized and supported to celebrate women in mathematics.
This was approved by a vast majority of (WM)^2 participants and the decision was made to disseminate the initiative.
Some ideas for your event
Share the word!
Think about sharing your – and others' – events! Don't be afraid to go social. You may use various hashtags : #WomenInMaths #WomenInMath #May12 #May12WIM. You can also use the following image for your social posts (right-click to download):
All events should be organized locally. As the local organizer, please feel free to adapt the event to the context of your work environment. We encourage various forms of events ranging from breakfast, lunch, tea, receptions, round-tables, film projections, exhibitions etc. around May 12th.
Here are some ideas for events you might organize in your university.
1. Film shows
There are a few films about the journeys of women in mathematics. You could organize a showing of one them in your university.
For example, the short (20 minute) film Journeys of Women in Math has been created by the IMU Committee for Women in Mathematics, filmed and edited by Micro-Documentaries, and all made possible by a grant from the Simons Foundation. For more information on the film, please see here. Showing this movie is free.
2. Remember Maryam Mirzakhani exhibition
Curator: Thais Jordao. Designer: Rafael Meireles Barroso.
Remember Maryam Mirzakhani is an exhibition with 18 original posters. This exhibition opened at the (WM)², the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics, and remained open during ICM 2018.
If your institution is interested in hosting the exhibition, you can consult the rules of use and contact CWM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Mathematical fair
Idea: Marie Lhuissier
A mathematical fair is an informal format for a mathematical seminar. It goes as follows: anybody who comes to the seminar can bring with her/him a little mathematical story, an object, a theorem... to share in 5 minutes. All the potential speakers take a card with a number, and the same set of cards is put in a hat. Then the order of speakers is chosen randomly. Every story lasts only 5 minutes (set the alarm!) and then, 1-2 questions follow. In this manner, usually 7-8 speakers can present their mathematical stories in one hour. Doing this is a lot of fun !
Please let us know about your event
Advertise your event by filling in the following form, in order to make it internationally visible. We'll display the list on a dedicated page.
Please fill one form for each event you organise!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
— African proverb
We are very happy to announce that 2019 is the first year of the initiative. We hope that this first edition will find support in all parts of the world. We thank all the teams of local organizers for their imagination, their time and their involvement in this work for the community!
If you organize an event yourself, let us know about it to display it here.
The interactive map is regularly updated with new events.
Already more than 100 events!
Souvenirs from the 2019 edition!
If you plan to organize an event, let us know about it. Please fill in the dedicated form, in order to make it internationally visible.
You can contact us with the form below if you have any questions.
Logo on home page (CC) Flower by Jaime Serra from the Noun Project
Thank you very much for contacting us!