WIMSIG NEWSLETTER — September 2020

From the WIMSIG Chair:

Dear WIMSIG members and friends,

I hope that September finds you well. From the bedroom in Melbourne that has become my office for the last five months of the pandemic, I have been pleased to see Australia’s overall case numbers of Covid-19 decreasing recently. Simultaneously, I have been discouraged to see reports on how the pandemic is affecting our members. Earlier this year, I helped to contribute to a report on how the pandemic is negatively affecting the careers of women (https://www.science.org.au/covid19/women-stem-workforce). The Australian Academy of Science has recently released a report on the difficulties encountered by early career researchers during these times (https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/early-and-mid-career-researchers-fear-their-careers-are-risk). Since more than half of our members are student members and early career members, these are very important issues to WIMSIG.

The above article notes that one of the top four disruptions to work, affecting 63% of respondents to the Academy’s survey, is an inability to participate in conference and training opportunities. I feel this loss acutely this month: September 2020 was going to be the month that WIMSIG ran its second conference ever to celebrate women in mathematical and statistical sciences. That conference has been moved to September 2021, but as the pandemic continues to affect travel, the economy, and universities, we will have to remain flexible to best help our members. Let us know if you have suggestions.

Meanwhile, there are WIMSIG opportunities available. WIMSIG has decided to keep our awards program open this round, in spite of the effects of the pandemic on travel. Applications for funding for Praeger awards to support research travel, and for Street awards to support carer responsibilities remain open. These awards may need to change this round to support more local travel, or registration fees for online conferences, or possibly babysitters to help researchers participate fully in online research activities. If you have an idea on how to use these funds, do apply!

WIMSIG is also seeking women to serve in leadership positions. We seek nominations for two Ordinary Member positions, as well as Secretary and Treasurer positions on the WIMSIG Executive Committee (EC). We need you, and we need your good ideas, to help us support women in mathematics through challenging times and into a post-pandemic future. For me, I have found my work on the WIMSIG EC to be rewarding both professionally and personally, as it has helped me to meet exceptional women mathematicians across Australia. If you are interested, I encourage you to nominate, or to contact a current WIMSIG EC member for more information.

Finally, with the recent announcement that AustMS will be online this year, WIMSIG will be holding its annual business meeting remotely in December. We hope many of you can participate, and we will send details when we have them. We will also need to figure out how to adjust our very popular annual AustMS WIMSIG dinner to accommodate all of you at home! More information will be forthcoming in later newsletters. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay well, and do consider joining us.

Best wishes,

Jessica Purcell (WIMSIG Chair)

Prof Asha Rao appointed as AMSI Interim Director

The Australian Mathematical Science Institute has appointed Prof Asha Rao (RMIT) as its new Interim Director. Asha is well-known to the WIMSIG community as she was the inaugural Chair of WIMSIG. As WIMISG Chair, Asha really got the ball rolling in establishing WIMSIG as a core part of AustMS, overseeing the implementation of the Anne Penfold Street and Cheryl E. Praeger Awards, and working with Nalini Joshi to establish the Women in Maths dinners at annual AustMS meetings. In 2019/2020, Asha has increased the profile of mathematics and cybersecurity throughout the community as part of the Super Stars of STEM program.

WIMSIG heartily congratulates Asha on her appointment and looks forward to working with AMSI to further support the careers of women in the mathematical sciences.

WIMSIG Executive Committee — Call for Nominations

At the end of 2020, WIMSIG will be electing new members for the Executive Committee, to commence terms in February 2021. The positions that will be open and the length of term are as follows:

  • Student member, 1 year term
  • Secretary, 2 year term
  • Treasurer, 2 year term
  • 2 x ordinary members, 2 year term

If you are interested in the opportunity to lead the drive for gender equity in Australian Mathematics, please consider nominating for a position by November 30.

Please contact the current members to answer any questions you may have about the roles:

The Returning Officer is A/Prof Vanessa Venturi (v.venturi@unsw.edu.au).

Nominations should be emailed to the Returning Officer, and need to include the nominee’s name, the second nominator’s name, the role, and a statement from the nominee on why they would like to take on the role, which will be sent out to the WIMSIG membership list should there be an election.


Online Conferences

With the COVID shutdown of many campuses around the world, some events are going online. There are many downsides to this, as there is no substitute for talking to an interesting speaker over a cup of tea. However, one of the upsides is the ability to still attend conferences and present your research without the financial, time and personal costs of travelling.

The following upcoming conferences will be online.

Webinar: Measuring and Reducing the Gender Gap in the Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences


Cheryl E. Praeger Travel and Anne Penfold Street Awards

The 13th round of the AustMS WIMSIG Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Awards and Anne Penfold Street Awards is now open and will close on October 1, 2020. The Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Awards are designed to provide full or partial support for Australian female mathematicians to attend conferences or to visit collaborators. The Anne Penfold Street Awards provide additional financial support to Australian mathematicians, regardless of gender, for their caring responsibilities while they travel for conferences or research visits to collaborators. Also note that conference organisers may apply for Anne Penfold Street Awards.

Further information and application forms are available at  https://austms.org.au/awards-grants/awards/praeger-travel-awards/ and https://austms.org.au/awards-grants/awards/penfold-street-awards/.

James Cook University

Macquarie University


Have you read an interesting article? Have some news? Have an opportunity available?

Please send items to WIMSIG-news@women.austms.org.au.

Note: Newsletters are published on the 1st day of each month (or soon after). The deadline for submitted items is the 27th day of each month.

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