Mathematics Wiskunde

Friday 28 June 2019

African Women in Math


From 2 to 5 July nearly 60 women mathematicians from Africa and South Africa will gather at Stellenbosch University (SU) for the African Women in Mathematics conference.

Dr Karin-Therese Howell, a mathematician from SU’s Department of Mathematical Sciences and one of the conference organisers, says the aim of the conference is to build a network of women mathematicians in Africa and to increase the visibility of women mathematicians in Africa.

During the four days, participants from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Ethiopia, Morocco and South Africa will cover topics in fields such as Matroid Theory, Algebra, Analysis, Applied Mathematics and Discrete Mathematics,

Two of the three plenary speakers are from Africa. They are Professor Nouzha El Yacoubi, a mathematician from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, and the first woman to be elected to the position of president of the African Mathematical Union (AMU). The title of her address is “Mathematics and Development: African challenges and prospects, the expected input of the African Mathematical Union”.

Professor Ingrid Rewitzky, executive head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University and Vice-Dean of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Science, will talk about her journey as a mathematician and dealing with challenges such as research versus teaching and specialization versus generalization.

Professor Nancy Ann Neudauer from Pacific University in the USA will deliver a plenary on “Breaking symmetry in graphs”. Prof Neudauer is closely involved with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and has travelled to Cameroon, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda to help set up AIMS locations in these countries.

Prof Rewitzky says a conference of this nature is significant: “It is a first step towards helping young women address the challenge of building a satisfying personal life while managing to be creative mathematicians whose contributions are acknowledged.”

The conference will also include panel discussions on career planning, work-life balance and how to improve the equity between men and women in this field.

“We hope the conference will provide the necessary networking opportunities that will support the participants as they advance through their postgraduate studies and careers and that it will result in many new fruitful collaborations and projects,” Dr Howell concludes.

Media enquiries

Dr Karin-Therese Howell

Tel: (021) 808 3281/3282

Mobile: (082) 838 5323