Inspiring women in maths

Inspiring women in maths

  • Undergraduate mathematics students - photography by Owen Richards
    Undergraduate mathematics students (from left to right): Naomi Arnold, Yanitsa Pehova, Claire Farey and Emily Olesken

Photography by Owen Richards

Cambridge is committed to tackling the gender imbalance in academia, particularly in traditionally male-dominated subjects such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The Faculty of Mathematics holds the Athena SWAN Bronze award, part of a national scheme to ensure equal opportunities for women. Thanks to an innovative gift from alumnus Nick Corfield (St John’s 1978), it is building on this achievement with the establishment of the Corfield Lectureship and Fellowship in Mathematics. This combines the appointment of a rising academic star in the Faculty with a Fellowship in the all-women’s Murray Edwards College and places a talented mathematician, conducting cutting-edge research, firmly within the context of the College environment.

“When I was an undergraduate at St John’s College, studying mathematics, I remember the gender imbalance in the student population, which clearly did not reflect the distribution of mathematical talent in the general population. Women have the same inherent talents for mathematics as men. The fact that the 2014 Fields Medal for Mathematics was awarded to the Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani is testament to this, but let’s not forget she was the first female mathematician to win the prize in its 80 year history", says Nick Corfield.

I hope my support facilitates the emergence of role models for talented women mathematicians and helps to redress the imbalance.

Nick Corfield

Making a career in mathematics more appealing

By providing dedicated support within the College environment, it is hoped that the experience of women studying mathematics at Cambridge is improved to the point where a career in mathematics becomes a more attractive proposition. Furthermore, it provides a prestigious and rare opportunity for a gifted mathematician at an early stage in their academic career to rise through the ranks from lecturer and tutor to the level of professor. The impact of such a gift will be to inspire women in mathematics and will be felt immediately and for generations to come.

More information

Read more about Cambridge's support for women in mathematics or, if you have been inspired to make a gift, use our online tool to find your cause.