A female professor at Stanford University has been awarded math’s highest honor, the Fields Medal. Widely considered the Nobel Prize of math, all previous 52 winners of the prestigious award have been men, making Iranian-born Maryam Mirzakhani the first female winner.
"This is a great honor,” Mirzakhani said in a statement on Stanford’s website. “I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians.”
Mizakhani said that as a young girl growing up in Iran, she dreamed of becoming a writer. But by high school, math problems and proofs had caught her attention.
Ingrid Daubechies, president of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), told Time Magazine that Mirzakhani’s success was hugely symbolic for women in the mathematics field.
“I hope it will encourage more women to get into mathematics because we need more women,” Daubechies said.
Although the percentage of women majoring in math is nearly on par with men today in the U.S., there are still many fewer women math professors at the top U.S. universities.
If you are interested in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, continue to seek out new opportunities to learn and increase your knowledge. Maryam Mirzakhani’s success is just one more reminder that girls can do anything!
Look for STEM programs in your 2014-15 Annual Program Book, which will be in homes later this month!