These are the colours that make our existence the beautiful thing that it is; a brilliant Iranian mathematician who blows her peers out of the water. Meet Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal; the highest award in mathematics, aka the Nobel Prize of mathematics.
In 2014, The International Mathematical Union chose to give the honour to Mirzakhani after she discovered new advances in the theory of Riemann surface. The IMU commends the best mathematicians under the age of 40 every four years.
You might have never heard her name, but this maths legend has been blazing a trail for years now. Before even going to college, Mirzakhani had won gold at the International Mathematical Olympiad, the world’s most honoured maths tournament for pre-college students.
After getting her undergraduate degree at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, Mirzakhani went off to Harvard to get her PhD. She now works as a professor of mathematics at Stanford.
Other than mathematics, the Nobel Prize winner has also dabbled into related fields such as mechanical engineering and material science.
Being the first female to win this prestigious award, people are considering this the first sign of many changes for the future. Certainly, there does not seem to be any known biological reason why women cannot excel in maths just as much as their male counterparts. Indeed, according to the National Academy of Sciences, studies show no biological differences that would explain the low representation of women in STEM academic faculty and leadership roles.
In an interview with Stanford News, Mirzakhani said she hopes to inspire more women to reach for their dreams:
“This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I’m sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.
I think it’s rarely about what you actually learn in class…it’s mostly about things that you stay motivated to go and continue to do on your own.”
We have to continue to celebrate excellence. In Trump’s world, Mirzakhani would be seen as little more than a terrorist and not the brilliant mind she actually is. And this is why we can not let hatred win. Every single time we overreach the expectations of human endeavour, we will sing about it; regardless of the race, creed, colour or gender of the triumphant person. Well done, Maryam. Well done!
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