Dimensions, the first student organization at Yale promoting women in mathematics, rebranded on Oct. 1 as the Yale chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a global nonprofit that aims to promote gender equality in math.
Dimensions was founded last spring by Annique Wong ’19 when she realized there were student organizations for women and gender minorities in the fields of computer science, engineering and physics, but not math. Charlotte Killiam ’18, a board member of Dimensions, said she reached out to Wong earlier this year in hopes of creating a chapter of the association at Yale. Over the summer, Wong, Killiam and fellow board member Veena Advani ’18 applied to turn Dimensions into an official chapter.
“[The aim is] to generally promote gender equality and inclusivity in math and math-related fields,” Killiam told the News.
She noted that the number of women hoping to major in a STEM field when they begin college is far greater than the number who actually graduate with degrees in STEM. Wong said the reason women do not stay in the math major stems from a lack of representation in the University’s math department and the discipline more broadly. Just four of the 53 professors in Yale’s math department are women, and only one of the four has tenure.
Ami Radunskaya, president of the Association for Women in Mathematics and a professor at Pomona College, said she hopes the association’s student chapters will heighten the visibility of women in math.
“It’s a signal to students and faculty that this is an inclusive environment, that we the mathematics community accept and support and celebrate everybody in their mathematical endeavors,” Radunskaya said.
In September, Dimensions held the first of its monthly teas with guest speaker Vicky Tu ’16, a software engineer who discussed her experiences at Google. And earlier this month, the group partnered with the Center for Teaching and Learning to hold a workshop designed to familiarize participants with LaTeX, a system that produces technical and scientific documentation.
In the coming months, Dimensions plans to invite Melanie Wood, a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to have lunch with undergraduate women in mathematics. It will also host Corrine Yap, a graduate student at Rutgers University, who will perform “Uniform Convergence,” a play about her experiences as a minority woman in math.
In addition to those events, Dimensions also plans to start a mentorship program pairing undergraduate and graduate students in hopes of creating a strong support network.
“It will be a good platform for the student members to meet with each other and possibly with faculty members from Yale or other universities, to talk about math or common problems that they may encounter,” said math professor Kalina Mincheva, a faculty sponsor of Dimensions.
Patrick Devlin — a Yale math professor who has pledged his support for the association’s new chapter — said gender imbalances and the underrepresentation of minority groups in STEM fields have “cost humanity those who would have been among the very greatest mathematical minds of all time.”
Devlin added that he is inspired by the work of the many brilliant mathematicians who are breaking social barriers as well as the people who are working to make the math community more diverse and welcoming. He also praised the work Dimensions does and said he is excited about the organization’s plans.
The Association for Women in Mathematics has more than 5,000 members.
Eui Young Kim | firstname.lastname@example.org