More role models in the natural sciences

Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science hosts the ‘Women of Mathematics and beyond’ exhibition


The exhibition ‘Women of Mathematics and beyond’ staged by the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science and the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence at JGU was officially opened on Monday, 11th June. It profiles 22 female researchers working in the fields of mathematics and physics, and is designed to encourage young female science students to pursue an academic career to make up for the underrepresentation of women in their subjects.

“We liked the idea so much that we decided to extend the exhibition, which has been displayed at 60 locations in Europe since 2016, to include the images of and interviews with various professors at the Rhine-Main Universities,” says the faculty dean, Prof. Concettina Sfienti, explaining the motivation of herself and her colleagues.
The original exhibition conceived by the mathematician Prof. Sylvie Paycha and female photographer Noel Matoff from Potsdam included portraits of and interviews with 13 female mathematicians from all over Europe and was first presented during a congress in Berlin in 2016.  The current extended version, that includes nine additional profiles of female mathematicians and physicists, was put together by the Rhine-Main Universities of Mainz, Frankfurt and Darmstadt.

In addition to outlining the natural science disciplines in which these women work and quoting, for example, standard formulae from their fields, other topics dealt with include why the profile subjects chose a profession in the sciences, how they manage to reconcile career and family life and the various support networks that are available. “While the Irène Joliot-Curie Program offers numerous support options to those women in and associated with the cluster, there is no doubt that role models are at least as important in this context,” adds Prof. Hartmut Wittig, coordinator of the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence.  He hopes that the exhibition will contribute to making the subjects of mathematics and physics more attractive and the associated research fields more tangible, so that more young female science students in Mainz, Frankfurt and Darmstadt are encouraged to embark on the corresponding career paths.

The exhibition was extended with the support of the Irène Joliot-Curie Program for the promotion of women in the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence - Precision Physics, Fundamental Interaction and Structure of Matter. This particle and hadron research association is currently being funded through the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments, and was able to submit a full proposal in connection with the new round of funding of the excellence strategy.

The exhibition will be on display until the end of November in the hallway on the 5th floor of Staudingerweg 7 and 9 and is accessible to the public during the building’s opening hours.