This week came with good news for women who are in the field of mathematics, as for the first time, a woman was awarded the Abel Prize 2019.
Karen Uhlenbeck, who is an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics, was awarded the prize in mathematics for her work on partial differential equations, and also received a cheque for €620 000.
“Karen Uhlenbeck received the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape,” said Abel committee chairman, Hans Munthe-Kaas.
Uhlenbeck is a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University, as well as visiting associate at the Institution for Advanced Study (IAS), both of which are in the US.
“I am aware of the fact that I am a role model for young women in mathematics, it’s hard being a role model, however, because what you really need to do is show students how imperfect people can be and still succeed. I may be a wonderful mathematician and famous because of it, but I’m also very human,” added Karen Uhlenbeck.
“Women are relative newcomers as research mathematicians, so it will take a while for us to get to the level of the top prize winners. There needs to be some critical mass not just a few truly outstanding exceptional individuals for the maths community to recognise and accept women as equally talented in maths as men,” noted Princeton mathematician and member of the Abel committee, Alice Chang Sun-Yung.