Pure Maths Colloquium: Michael Barany

This talk is part of the Pure Maths Colloquium at the University of St Andrews. Check out our upcoming talks at https://theran.lt/pure-colloquium/.

Where: Purdie Theatre C
When: Sep 29 2022 @ 16.00
Video: Not recorded
Speaker: Michael Barany University of Edinburgh
Title: Making the Modern Mathematician: Identity, politics, inclusion, exclusion, and the accidental rise of a "young man's game."

In the twentieth century, a particular image of mathematics as a “young man’s game” came to dominate popular images of mathematicians and many mathematicians’ own ideas of who can do mathematics and how. This model of the modern mathematician is both more recent and more contingent than commonly supposed. I will identify specific historical circumstances and developments that made mathematics appear to be a “young man’s game” in the context of the politics and institutions of an internationalizing discipline. These circumstances converge in the quadrennial International Congresses of Mathematics and the history of the Fields Medal, which has become an accidental symbol of the preemenince of young men in modern mathematics. Recognizing the history, contingency, and politics of this dominant mathematical identity and image can offer a means of understanding and confronting present and future challenges around identity and diversity that continue to matter for mathematics and mathematicians.