It turns out girls are good at math after all. Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani, Professor of Mathematics at Standford University, has won the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award given for mathematics. For those of you who don’t follow this sort of thing, or don’t remember hearing about it in the film Good Will Hunting, (co-staring Robin Williams – may he rest in peace), this is a big deal. The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to researchers under 40 years old for outstanding mathematical achievement and enormous promise for future work. This year the prize was also awarded to three other exceptionally smart people, Martin Hairer, Manjul Bhargava, Artur Avila.
Dr. Mirzakhani is the first woman to ever win this distinction. Math geeks everywhere are freaking out:
In the words of vice president of the International Mathematics Union, Christiane Rousseau, “It’s an extraordinary moment. Marie-Curie had Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry at the beginning of the 20th century, but in mathematics this is the first time we have a woman winning the most prestigious prize there is. This is a celebration for women.”
Sir Tim Gowers, a Fields medalist and Cambridge University mathematician said, “Although women have contributed to mathematics at the highest level for a long time, this fact has not been visible to the general public. I hope that the existence of a female Fields medalist, who will surely be the first of many, will put to bed many myths about women and mathematics, and encourage more young women to think of mathematical research as a possible career.” Here, here!