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Awm Math Essay Contest House

Welcome to the web site for biographies of women in mathematics. These pages are part of an on-going project at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia, to illustrate the numerous achievements of women in the field of mathematics. Here you can find biographical essays or comments on the women mathematicians profiled on this site, as well as additional resources about women in mathematics. Each time this page is reloaded, a randomly selected photo is displayed to the left (if Javascript is enabled). Click on the image to go to the profile of that woman.

We also welcome contributions of biographical information or essays from those outside Agnes Scott College. If you are interested in contributing an essay, please send your contribution to the email address below. Comments, suggestions, or corrections can also be sent to this address.

Did you know? (See the Archive for past announcements)

  • In celebration of Women's History Month, the Notices of the American Mathematical Society and Women’s History Month guest editors Margaret A. Readdy and Christine Taylor present profiles of the first graduating class of women mathematicians from Princeton and twenty-seven contemporary women in math. Read the profiles in the March issue of the AMS Notices, Volume 65, No. 3, pages 248-303.
  • Report from Maria-Francoise Roy, Chair of the IMU Committee for Women in Mathematics, from the January 2018 IMU Newsletter:
    The Committee for Women in Mathematics (CWM) received 55 applications for its 2018 call of which it approved 10. Most of the grants are devoted to developing regional networks for Women in Mathematics, in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Often the initiatives take the form of a meeting with both a mathematical part and a career development part. This is the case for two regional meetings of the African Women in Mathematics Association (AWMA), one taking place in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) for East Africa and one taking place in Ibadan (Nigeria) for West Africa, and also for the second Central Asia Women in Mathematics Association meeting taking place in Uzbekistan. The focus of the support given to the Indian Women in Mathematics association is for the participation of women from the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation at their meeting at Shiv Nadar University in Uttar Pradesh. The first workshop of "Women in mathematics in the Balkan region" taking place in Skopje (Macedonia) will involve several neighbouring countries. A Workshop in El Salvador (supported by the Vice Minister of Science and Technology and the ICSU Regional Office of Latin America and the Caribbean) entitled "Why Mathematics? : Encouraging girls to pursue the dream of becoming teachers or researchers in this discipline" will be focused on less developed Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. An activity inspired by the series of meetings "Women in ..." (see for example "Women in numbers") held at the Banff International Research station, is going to take place for the first time in South America, in Uruguay.
    The African Women in Mathematics Association will also be writing portraits of African women mathematicians, both to post on AWMA website and to publish as a booklet to be used for promoting mathematics among young African women.
    Two further events are taking place in Europe, an ICTP school in Trieste (Italy) on Dynamical Systems, with all female organizers and lecturers, and the European Women in Mathematics General Meeting taking place in Graz (Austria). In both cases the CWM grant will be used to support the attendance of women from developing countries.
  • Nouzha El Yacoubi was elected in July 2017 as President of the African Mathematical Union (AMU) for the period 2017-2021. She is the first woman in this position.
  • Congratulations to Maryna Viazovska of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology for having been awarded the 2017 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize. This prize, established in 2005, is This nomination is the crowning achievement of a brilliant career of research and service. In particular, Nouzha El Yacoubi had been the first woman Secretary General of AMU in 2004-2009 and she has chaired the AMU Commission on Pan African Mathematics Olympiads from 1995 to 2009.awarded annually for outstanding contributions by young mathematicians no older than 32 to areas influenced by Srinivasa Ramanujan (who died at the age of 32). To read the prize citation, see the second page of the Mathematical People section of the January 2018 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. Read more about her at Wikipedia.
  • The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) has established the AWM Fellows Program to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to the support and advancement of women in the mathematical sciences, consistent with the AWM mission: "to encourage women and girls to study and to have active careers in the mathematical sciences, and to promote equal opportunity and the equal treatment of women and girls in the mathematical sciences." To see the list of inaugural fellows, visit the AWM webpage on the launch of the AWM Fellows Program.
  • The IMU Committee for Women in Mathematics (CWM) welcomes the mathematical community to the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics - (WM)2, a satellite event of the ICM 2018. The (WM)2 will bring together mathematicians from all over the world to think about and discuss gender issues in mathematics, its challenges, initiatives, and perspectives for the future, with a strong focus on Latin America. The (WM)2 will take place at Riocentro convention center on July 31, 2018. Its program includes research talks, group discussions about gender issues in mathematics, a panel discussion and poster presentation. There will also be a tribute to Maryam Mirzakhani. For more details, see the conferences website.
  • Check out the new WomenDoMath website at This NSF supported site brings "news and resources about women and other groups or individuals in mathematics that accurately represent the diversity of the math community. WDM aims to provide a central hub and resources pool within reach for women in mathematics."
  • Talitha Washington, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Howard University, has been appointed by the National Science Foundation as the Division of Undergraduate Education Program Director for the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. The goal of this program is to strengthen STEM education at two- and four-year colleges and universities by improving curricula, instruction, laboratories, infrastructure, assessment, diversity of students and faculty, and collaborations. For more information about Professor Washington, see her website at
  • Congratulations to the U.S. team of Qi Qi, Angela Deng, Wanlin Li, and Siye Zhu, who took first place at the European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad held April 6-12, 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland. Each member of the team was awarded a gold medal for their individual performance. For more information, see the MAA press release. For information about the competition, including the problems, team scores, and individual scores, see theEGMO website.

AWM Biographies Contest

To increase awareness of women's ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics sponsors an essay contest for biographies of contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers. This contest is open to students in the following categories: Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, and College Undergraduate. At least one winning submission will be chosen from each category. Winners will receive a prize, and their essays will be published online at the AWM website. Additionally, a grand prize winner will have his or her submission published in the AWM Newsletter. For more information and to see the results of past Essay Contests, go to

Agnes Scott College, founded in 1889, is a private liberal arts college for women in Decatur, a part of Atlanta, Georgia.

Looking for college scholarships for women? Agnes Scott, a top liberal arts college, offers women generous scholarships based on academic record, academic interests, and ethnic and religious affiliations.

Visit the Agnes Scott College Mathematics Department website.

Who can enter?

This essay contest is open to students in the following categories:

  • Grades 6-8
  • Grades 9-12
  • Undergraduate

At least one winning submission will be chosen from each category.

What is the subject of the essay?

Your essay should be based primarily on an interview with a woman currently working in a mathematical career. The submission must be in essay form, not just a transcript of your interview.

How long should the essay be?

The essay should be approximately 500 to 1000 words in length.

Who can I write about?
  • You may interview and write about any woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career.
  • If you would like to be put in contact with someone who has agreed to be interviewed for this contest, please contact Dr. Joanna Bieri (interviewee coordinator) at Please note that interviewee contacts will only be given out for requests received by January 10 each year.

Here are some suggestions for finding possible women to interview:

  • female math teachers
  • female professors in mathematics at a local college or university (you can try looking up the school's website and looking for the mathematics department; many departments list their faculty and their email addresses)
  • also consider other mathematical department such as applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, physics, engineering, finance, etc.
  • to find mathematicians from underrepresented minorities, you may want to try the website for the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), or the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

The following questions are suggestions for what ask your interviewee about during the interview:

  • What motivated your interviewee to pursue a career in the mathematical sciences?
  • What is your interviewee’s educational, family and cultural background?
  • What kind of work does she do?
  • Does she have any advice to students who are interested in pursuing a career in the mathematical sciences?
  • What are your interviewee’s hobbies?
How will essays be judged?

Essays will be judged by a panel of mathematicians on content, grammar, and presentation.

What do I need to submit?

A valid submission will contain the following information:

  1. A biographical essay, based primarily on an interview, of approximately 500-1000 words in length, on a woman currently working in a mathematical career.
  2. A short (approximately 100 words) biographical sketch of the student contestant. This biographical sketch should include the student's name, grade level, school, and mathematical interests.
  3. Information about the student:
    • student's name
    • address of student (or parent)
    • phone number or email address of student (or parent)
  4. Information about the subject of the biography:
    • name
    • address
    • phone number and/or email address
All information must be submitted using the online submission form (available December 1).
When is the deadline?

All submissions must be received by January 31 each year.

How should I submit my essay?
Essay Contest Form

All information must be submitted using the online submission form (available December 1).

If you have any problems submitting your essay, please contact Dr. Heather A. Lewis (contest organizer) either by email ( or at the following address:

Dr. Heather A. Lewis
Department of Mathematics
Nazareth College
4245 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

All submissions become the property of the Association for Women in Mathematics.

What should I ask in my interview?