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The University of Southampton
Mathematical Sciences

Celebrating equality, diversity and inclusivity in Mathematical Sciences

Published: 11 November 2021
Winning entry

Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, visited the School of Mathematical Sciences on 14 October, for the award ceremony of the MATHS=E+D+I Art Competition that ran last Spring.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity are at the very core of mathematics. The validity of a theorem, the uncanny ability of mathematics to describe, measure and model the world around us are independent of the gender, race, social and economic class, etc. of mathematicians. Mathematics can also act as a force for positive change by highlighting unjustifiable differences, from the gender pay gap to race bias in sentencing. And yet, significant inequalities within mathematics exist. For example, only approximately a third of Maths A-level students are female. The purpose of this art competition was to remind us all that mathematics is open to everyone and that nobody should think that mathematics is not for them because of who they are, rather than what they like. 

The winning entry (pictured) by Raffaella Mulas, highlighted how diversity doesn’t make us “odd”.

Raffaella wrote "The number 2 is beautiful and it has many unique properties. It is the only even prime number, and being different from the other prime numbers doesn't make it odd. This is true also for people: being different doesn't make you odd. It makes you beautiful and unique."

The other posters emphasised the contributions that mathematicians of very different backgrounds have made and can make to this wonderful field. They are now on permanent display in the Maths Student Centre (Building 56).

The Head of Mathematical Sciences, Professor Marika Taylor, welcomed Caroline and illustrated some of the actions taken by the School to increase the diversity of students in STEM subjects. These include working with schools in India to popularise gravitational waves, coinciding with the planning of the construction of a gravitational wave observatory. Caroline talked about her experience in the House of Commons and how diversity and inclusivity are essential to ensure that legislation is both effective and fair.

Group photo caption:

(L-R) Marika Taylor (Head of Maths), Jim Anderson (Deputy Dean Education FSS), Phil Wright (Senior Vice President Academic), Jane Falkingham (Dean FSS), and Caroline Nokes MP.

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