Maryam Mirzhakani, Professor at Stanford University, is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the highest honour accorded a mathematician, in the history of the award.
Some quotes from Ian Sample’s article in the Guardian, “Fields Medal mathematics prize won by woman for first time in its history“:
“Although women have contributed to mathematics at the highest level for a long time, this fact has not been visible to the general public. I hope that the existence of a female Fields medallist, who will surely be the first of many, will put to bed many myths about women and mathematics, and encourage more young women to think of mathematical research as a possible career.”~ Sir Tim Gowers, Cambridge University
“The social barriers for girls who are interested in mathematical sciences might not be lower now than they were when I grew up. And balancing career and family remains a big challenge. It makes most women face difficult decisions which usually compromise their work”~ Maryam Mirzhakani, Stanford University
“Maths is a hugely rewarding subject, but sadly many children lose confidence very early and never reap those rewards. It has traditionally been regarded as a male preserve, though women are known to have contributed to its development for centuries – more than 16 centuries if we go back to Hypatia of Alexandria.
In recent years around 40% of UK undergraduates studying maths have been women, but that proportion declines very rapidly when we look at the numbers progressing to PhDs and beyond. I hope that this award will inspire lots more girls and young women, in this country and around the world, to believe in their own abilities and aim to be the Fields medallists of the future.”~ Frances Kirwan, Oxford University