Women and Mathematics

Jan 11 Mon
Morning Tea - AMSI
11am - 12noon @ RMIT, Melbourne Australia

As part of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s annual Summer School, IFF director Margaret Wertheim will be talking about the subject of women and mathematics and how we can improve STEM communication to women and girls.

Date: Monday Jan 11, 2016, 11am-12noon

Location: RMIT, Melbourne Australia (Building TBA)

Margaret Wertheim has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics. Originally intending to become a research physicist, she ultimately decided to become a science communicator, and has spent the past 30 years pioneering new ways of creatively engaging audiences with mathematics and science. Margaret is the author of six books, including the internationally acclaimed Pythagoras’ Trousers, which traces the cultural history of the quest to understand physical reality in mathematical terms.

A specific feature of Margaret’s work has been finding ways to engage women and girls with STEM subjects. For ten years in her native Australia she wrote regular columns about science for women’s magazines, including Australian Vogue and Elle Australia. She may be the only journalist in the world to have held such a position. For ABC Australia, she also conceived, wrote and co-directed a ground-breaking 6-part television science series, called Catalyst, that was aimed at teenage girls.

In 1991 Margaret moved to Los Angeles where she founded the Institute For Figuring, a non-profit organization devoted to “the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” Through the IFF she has curated art+science exhibitions for museums and galleries around the world, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The IFF’s Crochet Coral Reef project – which she created with her artist-twin-sister Christine – is the largest participatory art and science project on the planet and has had more than 8000 active contributors in a dozen counties on five continents. Through an unlikely combination of geometry and handicraft, the Crochet Coral Reef educates women about the foundations of mathematics while also drawing attention to the devastating impact of climate change on living coral reefs. The Crochet Coral Reef project has been called “the AIDS quilt of global warming.”