What is it?
International Women in Mathematics Day is a new holiday that started last year in order to honour the Iranian Mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani, who is the first woman to win the Fields Medal. Maryam was born on the 12th May 1977 so the celebration of her achievements will be on the 12th of May, as this is her birthday.
What did Maryam achieve?
In her junior and senior years of high school, she won the gold medal for mathematics in the Iranian National Mathematics Olympiad, thus allowing her to bypass the national college entrance exam. In 1994, when she was just 17 years old, she became the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad in Hong Kong, scoring 41 out of 42. The following year, she was the first Iranian to achieve the full score and to win two gold medals. When she was 19, she managed to publish her very first book, ‘Elemental Number Theory, Challenging Problems’.
Later in her career, she became a professor at Stanford University. Maryam devoted her study time at the University focusing on Moduli Spaces (parameterising a closed surface by using algebraic sequences) and Riemann Surfaces (when you take a plane and you bend a deform it without tearing it). She was the first person to solve the problem of counting Simple Closed Geodesics (the shortest paths between two points on closed curved surfaces) by using the research that she had been committed to on these Moduli Spaces. Before her work, there were ways to estimate the upper bound of these Geodesics but she was the first person to allow for a concrete method of getting the values (albeit, a hard method).
What are we going to do?
Next year, we will be celebrating this day to inspire the students and to honour Maryam. We may have a future Maryam Mirzakhani just waiting to be awarded their medal!
Teacher of Mathematics