College chapter of AWM has inaugural meeting

September 23, 2015 by Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

Eleven students converged for the first meeting of the College’s chapter of AWM in Bronfman.

Eleven students converged for the first meeting of the College’s chapter of AWM in Bronfman. Isabella Huang/Productions Manager

The College’s first chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) held its founding meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Eleven student mathematicians convened in Bronfman Mathematics and Statistics Library with Haydee Lindo ’08, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in mathematics, to formally agree upon the bylaws of the AWM, and to gain official recognition as the Williams College Student Chapter of the AWM.

The goals of AWM, as stated by the charter, are to reduce barriers for historically under-represented gender identities and gender expressions, to increase knowledge and interest in the mathematical sciences, to promote a greater understanding of the contributions of women and to mentor women interested in pursuing careers in math-related fields.

The founding group consists of Xixi Edelsbrunner ’16, Roger Vargas ’16, Katie Bennett ’16, Sarah Fleming ’17, Nina Pande ’17, Sumun Iyer ’18, Kiran Kumar ’18, Janice Lee ’17, Dawn Wu ’18, Isabella Huang ’18, Emma Rogowski ’19, Anya Michaelsen ’19 and Aesha Siddiqui ’19. 

At the first meeting, the members of the chapter unanimously elected Pande as president, Fleming as vice-president and treasurer and Lee as secretary. 

“Our AWM chapter provides a forum for students to articulate ideas and concerns that many of us have been thinking about for a long time,” Pande said. “We’re just now getting the opportunity to discuss and address these issues in an organized fashion.”

The chapter hopes to meet many goals for the year, including reaching out to similar groups at peer institutions and bringing in guest speakers for panels on the experiences of female mathematicians. Members also had some internal concerns and ideas, like examining data to determine where the department loses women in the math major and hosting a candid discussion with women in the College math community about issues they have faced.

Edelsbrunner  proposed a project that would examine the social patterns of collaborative work and how that leads to the formation of a personal community in mathematics.

More short-term goals for the chapter include fostering an inclusive community of women in math at the College, which the chapter hopes will break the perception of mathematics as exclusively a solitary discipline, and providing mentoring opportunities for first-years and sophomores who are considering majoring in mathematics or statistics.

All events will be open to the public, and members do not necessarily need to be women, nor mathematicians. The second meeting will be today at 6:30 p.m. in Paresky 114. Interested parties are encouraged to bring their dinner and get to know AWM.  On Friday the group will host an ice-cream social at Lickety Split.

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