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How do I download this eBook? See help and FAQs pages. Wales and the Bomb. Anglo-American Relations Since Anglo-American Defence Relations, Contemporary Strategy. They were American professors, visiting the UK from a large midwestern university. I was an American student, visiting Cambridge on a fellowship for the academic year.

I was reading a mathematics text, trying to mind my own business. P and Q were deep in discussion, trying to answer the question "Why are there so few female mathematicians? They examined the premise that it was due to prejudice and discrimination.

Alice in Numberland: A Students' Guide to the Enjoyment of Higher Mathematics

They rapidly dismissed that, on the grounds that the people in power in mathematics were just like them, and they were obviously good people who couldn't possibly unfairly discriminate or succumb to prejudice. Much as I tried not to eavesdrop, from that point on I felt as if I were listening to two bumbling detectives trying to solve a murder mystery. They had ruled out the obvious suspect. Who were they going to declare to be the culprit, and how were they going to get there? I had heard such debates many times before, so I had my suspicions about where they were heading.

Nonetheless, I ardently hoped for better. They eliminated one premise after another.

Alice in Numberland : A Students' Guide to the Enjoyment of Higher Mathematics -

Could it be lack of opportunities? Surely not. Lack of interest? Well, maybe, but that wouldn't fully account for it. They considered everything they could think of, until they were left with only one option. At that point, I just couldn't restrain myself. It was clear what they were about to say, and I didn't want them to say it. Too many times had I heard always male professors conclude that women weren't as good at mathematics because they were genetically inferior. I introduced myself to P and Q, apologized for listening to their conversation, and told them that the answers to their question were prejudice and discrimination.

Actually, it's likely I told them there were three reasons: "discrimination, discrimination, and discrimination", alluding to the adage about real estate and location. I pointed out that Ivy League universities had only recently begun to admit women, and were, even then, doing so in small numbers.

I told them some recent stories about Harvard, from personal experience. And I pointed out some facts about the recent history of and discrimination against women at Cambridge. I don't know whether any opinions changed. Their minds were probably made up before they started. But they listened politely, even though I disagreed with them. I wish that happened more often nowadays!

I can often correctly guess a lot about the nationalities, ethnicities, or genders of the organizers from the speaker list.

Dear High School (and College) Students, STOP Making These Math Errors

Sometimes I can even correctly guess names of organizers. I recommend playing the game. How much about the conference organizers can you guess from the list of speakers? There are times when I've asked an organizer why the list of invited speakers is all male, and his reply is that the women in the field aren't good enough, the men are just better.

I've gotten similar responses when a speaker and organizer list is disproportionately Dutch, or French, or of a particular ethnicity. At a certain Ivy League university in the s, the junior faculty attended a meeting where the all-male senior faculty decided which undergraduates would graduate summa cum laude in mathematics. Afterwards, some of the junior faculty told me they were upset and concerned because a female student with high grades in hard courses was passed over in favor of a male student with lower grades, after a senior faculty member said that the man reminded him of himself at that age.

People choose people who remind them of themselves. Then they rationalize it by saying that such people are better. I like merit-based systems, and I'm not advocating for quotas. And if financial constraints mean that local speakers are preferred over those with more expensive travel costs, that's understandable. But sometimes it helps to be reminded to give full consideration to people different from oneself or one's friends. I hope that things have improved, and that the organizer-guessing game isn't as easy as it used to be. The game has a second part.

If the speaker and organizer lists are skewed in the same direction, ask yourself whether the argument that the over-represented group is just better feels right to you. If it does, do you belong to the favored group? At first we exchanged homeworks discreetly so as not to embarrass W. Eventually we didn't bother, and would even walk across the room to trade papers.

At some point W noticed and commented on it, but he never learned to tell the difference between us. When I ran the above past Miriam, she replied "But there's more. That was back in the 70's. In the 80's I had a similar experience at work: there were just two female programmers, and we didn't look alike at all. Still, we were often addressed by each others' name. Things got better at my next two jobs, but only because I was the only woman programmer.

During one fight, he said in annoyance "You argue like my ex-wife!

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She never lets me win! He was still trying to win an argument with his ex-wife. Since she was no longer around, he used me as a surrogate. This was neither the first nor the last time that I saw a man use a woman from his professional life as a surrogate for his ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, wife, mother, or daughter.

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And it's led me to wonder to what extent people of all genders view their female colleagues as part of their personal lives, not their professional lives. At a later conference, I realized that T and I were getting along quite well.

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Had I improved my interpersonal skills? That would have been nice.

No, that wasn't it. He and his ex-wife had gotten back together, and they were happy. Fighting with me no longer filled his need to try to win an argument with someone who wasn't there. Click here for the post. While it's written for mathematicians, I hope that others will find something useful in it. A high school math teacher applied to the Ohio State mathematics graduate program with the goal of teaching in a college or community college after obtaining a PhD.

She had already started working towards her goal by getting a Master's degree. Her application made perfect sense to me, so I was surprised to read the evaluations of her file by some of my male colleagues:. You might think that a mathematics professor could have correctly calculated that she was only thirty-something, but even for mathematicians, one's cognitive skills decline when angry. Several months later, near the end of the admissions season, an application arrived from a man who had made his career as a writer.

It wasn't clear to me why he wanted to earn a mathematics PhD. Though he was older than the math teacher whose age seemed to be a concern to my colleagues , and he hadn't gotten a Master's degree, my colleagues' evaluations were glowing.

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They said he was a mature, well-motivated adult, and that it would be a pleasure to have him in our classes. It's curious how I and the rest of the committee could have read the same files so differently. He lived out of town so it was a bit of a drive to get there. Why did he want us to meet at his house? He said that since we were women, he decided we would feel more comfortable at a home than at the university.

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It's too bad he hadn't asked us what we preferred. Some of us were not pleased that we had to take time away from work to go there and back, arrange carpools, etc. Given the quantity of leftovers that his wife put into their refrigerator after the lunch, I cynically wondered whether the leftovers were the real reason he wanted the meeting at his house.