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Celebrating the Extraordinary: International Women in Math Day

May 13, 2023
By Christopher Plenzich

Attendees in the De Seve Cinema

On May 13, 2023, The Department of Mathematics and Statistics from Concordia University played host to the celebration of International Women in Math Day. The event was a large success, with a diverse group of mathematics enthusiasts and gender equality advocates gathering to honor the life and accomplishments of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman and Iranian to receive the Fields Medal. Attendees were captivated by a screening of the documentary "Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani," directed by George Csicsery. The film showcased Mirzakhani's extraordinary journey and impact on the field of mathematics, while also making complex mathematical concepts accessible to all using animated sequences and visual explanations.

The event, which took place in the de Sève Cinema, located in the McConnell Library Building of Concordia Universtiy's Sir George Williams Campus, opened with introductions by two members of our university; Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Cody Hyndman, and Interim Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Inclusion, Elizabeth Bloodgood.

An insightful panel discussion with distinguished women mathematicians and statisticians from various backgrounds and career levels followed the film screening. The panelists included two members from our very own Department of Mathematics and Statistics from Concordia University: Professor Lea Popovic and MSc student Saeedeh Nasrin Jamali; as well Dominique Maldague, a Postdoctoral Fellow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Vasilisa Shramchenko, a Professor from Université de Sherbrooke. The panelists engaged in a thought-provoking conversation, sharing their experiences, challenges, and triumphs as women in the mathematical sciences. The event exemplified the spirit of International Women in Math Day, as it not only honored Mirzakhani's ground-breaking achievements but also provided a platform to promote gender inclusivity and encourage more women to pursue careers in mathematics.

The enthusiastic turnout attested to the impact of Mirzakhani's legacy and the recognition of the need for diversity in STEM fields. The celebration was a testament to the power of perseverance, diversity, and inspiration. It serves as a steppingstone toward a future where more women excel and make their mark in the mathematical sciences. Attendees left with admiration for Mirzakhani's extraordinary achievements and a renewed determination to break barriers and empower women in the pursuit of knowledge.

We would like to express our gratitude to the Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM) for generously funding this event. We would also like to extend our thanks to our guests, Cody Hyndman, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Concordia University, and Elizabeth Bloodgood, Interim Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Inclusion. We would like to recognize the hard work our event organizers, Professors Galia Dafni, Lea Popovic, and Project Coordinator Christopher Plenzich.

Read more about the event and the biographical film of Maryam Mirzakhani.

Moderator and panelists for the International Women in Math Day Event Moderator and panelists for the International Women in Math Day Event. From left to right: Dr. Galia Dafni, Dr. Lea Popovic, Saeedeh Nasrin Jamali, Dr. Dominique Maldague, and Dr. Vasilisa Shramchenko

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