Thursday, March 15, 2018

Math-minorities -- stories needing to be shouted

     One of my favorite Facebook communities is Women in Maths -- a group energized by Susanne Pumpluen at the University of Nottingham and a site that consistently offers must-read items concerning math-women.  One of the important blogs on my reading list is the American Mathematical Society Blog, inclusion/exclusion -- a diverse group of bloggers, headed by Adriana Salerno that discuss issues pertaining to marginalized and underrepresented groups in mathematics.  A February posting by Piper Harron focuses attention on the question "What does it feel like not to belong?" -- treating exclusion issues with important frankness.  As someone who felt uncomfortable without speaking out about it, I admire Harron's expression of her views.

     For a poetic comment on this situation I turn to the final stanza of a poem of mine about Emmy Noether, a verse that illustrates the oft-repeated habit of praise that actually is a put-down. 

               Today, history books proclaim that Noether
               is the greatest mathematician
               her sex has produced. They say she was good
               for a woman. 

Readers interested in reading a bit more are invited to visit my 2017 article in the online Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, "They Say She Was Good for a Woman:  Poetry and Musings."

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