Women in Maths

And my experience at Imperial

Studying Maths at Imperial does not only mean living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, but also being a part of a top world ranking Mathematics department, boasting two field medalists. However as a woman in this department what I have appreciated the most is having female role models such as Professor Emma McCoy. Through lecturing me in first year, she not only taught me statistics in such a thorough and engaging manner, but who has also inspired me to focus my studies on statistics. By bringing in real life scenarios, including her own passion for cycling statistics, marathon times and rather controversially road traffic accidents, McCoy managed to convince my entire cohort that statistics was one of the most enticing areas of mathematics with countless applications in the real world.

Professor McCoy is just one of the amazing women in the department, something that is highlighted by our biweekly “Women in Maths lunches” where we have already heard from four fascinating women working in the department including McCoy this year. At these events, all members of the department regardless of gender, are invited to hear female alumni, current PhD students or lecturers speaking about their research at the university or how they have applied knowledge from a degree in their career. Speakers are always willing to answer questions at the time or in the future, many offering to mentor and advise students on finding jobs and progressing in careers. For more information, to sign up to the mailing list or if you’d be interested in giving a talk at this event, please contact Women in Maths’ expert organisers and third year maths students Alma Fredriksson and Manlin Chawla.

Whilst walking around Huxley, it becomes apparent that there is a slight gender gap however our undergraduate liaison officers create a friendly environment in which we are encouraged to speak out about issues affecting us and suggest improvements for the department, including events to bring together the community of female home students, the smallest minority. Through outreach programmes including visiting schools there is a strong focus to bring more women into the department.

Being a woman in a field dominated by men has never deterred me from pursuing a degree and a career in mathematics, if anything, it has motivated me as there is something special and more unique about studying such a fundamental subject when perhaps people don’t expect you to be able to. It’s so empowering to see a new generation of mathematicians more equally split in gender than ever before as it proves how there is nothing stopping women from excelling in this subject. Everyday I am surrounded by some exceptionally talented young minds, people who one day will be world leading researchers, thriving in finance or generally excelling in their field. But for now they are frighteningly intelligent and hard working peers who make up a community that I am thrilled to be a part of. 

Given my overwhelmingly positive experience, the advice that I would give to any young women keen on studying Maths at a higher level is that loving maths will be enough to carry you through your degree regardless of whether there is a gender gap because, at the end of the day, it is your passion that is most important. But most of all, be proud to be a woman in STEM.

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