Agnes Scott College

Prizes, Awards, and Honors for Women Mathematicians

Prizes and Awards

Lecture Series

Offices


Nobel Prize in Mathematics

A trick question! There is no Nobel prize in mathematics. Why not? That question has created numerous stories, myths, and anecdotes. The most popular is that Nobel's wife had an affair with a mathematician, usually said to be Mittag-Leffler, and in revenge Nobel refused to endow one of his prizes in mathematics. Too bad for this story that Nobel was a life-long bachelor! The other common story is that Mittag-Leffler, the leading Swedish mathematician of Nobel's time, antagonized Nobel and so Nobel gave no prize in mathematics to prevent Mittag-Leffler from becoming a winner. This story is also suspect, however, because Nobel and Mittag-Leffler had almost no contact with each other. Most likely Nobel simply never gave any thought to including mathematics among his list of prize areas.

References:

  1. Garding, Lars and Lars Hormander. "Why is there no Nobel prize in mathematics?" The Mathematical Intelligencer, 7(3)(1985), 73-74.
  2. Ross, Peter. "Why isn't there a Nobel prize in mathematics?" Math Horizons, November 1995, p9. [Reprint from the Math Forum]
  3. Why is there no Nobel Prize in Mathematics?, http://www.almaz.com/Nobel/why_no_math.html, The Nobel Prize Internet Archive

Fields Medal

The Fields Medal is considered to be the equivalent of the Nobel prize for mathematics. John Charles Fields (1863-1932), a Canadian mathematician, endowed funds in his will for an award for mathematical achievement and promise that would emphasize the international character of the mathematical endeavor. The first Fields Medal was awarded at the International Congress of Mathematics meeting in Oslo in 1936. Since 1950 the medal has been awarded every four years at the International Mathematical Congress to between 2 and 4 mathematicians. Although there is no specific age restriction in Fields' will, he did wish that the awards recognize both existing work and the promise of future achievement, so the medals have been restricted to mathematicians under the age of 40. No woman mathematician has ever won a Fields Medal.

Reference:

  1. IMU Awards and Prizes, [contains complete list of all winners of the Fields Medal and pictures of the front and back of the medal]
  2. Historical Introduction by Alex Lopez-Ortiz, part of his FAQ site on mathematics.

Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics

[Description from the Notices of the American Mathematical Society]
The Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize in Mathematics was established in 1990 using funds donated to the American Mathematical Society by Joan S. Birman of Columbia University in memory of her sister, Ruth Lyttle Satter. Professor Satter earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and then joined the research staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories during World War II. After raising a family, she received a Ph.D. in botany at the age of forty-three from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she later became a faculty member. Her research on the biological clocks in plants earned her recognition in the U.S. and abroad. Professor Birman requested that the prize be established to honor her sister's commitment to research and to encouraging women in science. The prize is awarded every two years to recognize an outstanding contribution to mathematics research by a woman in the previous five years. The winners have been:


Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education

[Description from the Notices of the American Mathematical Society]
The Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics established the annual Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievements in any area of mathematics education, to be interpreted in the broadest possible sense. While Louise Hay was widely recognized for her contributions to mathematical logic and for her strong leadership as head of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, her devotion to students and her lifelong commitment to nurturing the talent of young women and men secure her reputation as a consummate educator. The annual presentation of this award is intended to highlight the importance of mathematical education and to evoke the memory of all that Hay exemplified as a teacher, scholar, administrator, and human being.

The winners have been:

For more information about the award and the recipients, visit Louise Hay Award at the Association for Women in Mathematics web site.


Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contributions to Research

The Steele Prizes were established in 1970. In 1993, the AMS formalized three categories for the prizes. The prize for "seminal contributions to research" is awarded for a paper, whether recent or not, that has proved to be of fundamental or lasting importance in its field, or a model of important research.

Women mathematicians who have won the prize are:


Chauvenet Prize

The Chauvenet Prize is awarded annually by the Mathematical Association of America to the author of an outstanding expository article on a mathematical topic by a member of the association. First awarded in 1925, the Prize is named for William Chauvenet, a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy. It was established through a gift in 1925 from J.L. Coolidge, then MAA President. Winners of the Chauvent Prize are among the most distinguished of mathematical expositors.

Women mathematicians who have won the prize are:


Euler Book Prize

The Euler Book Prize is awarded annually to an author or authors of an outstanding book about mathematics. The Prize is intended to recognize authors of exceptionally well written books with a positive impact on the public's view of mathematics and to encourage the writing of such books. Eligible books include mathematical monographs at the undergraduate level, histories, biographies, works of fiction, poetry; collections of essays, and works on mathematics as it is related to other areas of arts and sciences. To be considered for the Euler Prize a book must be published during the five years preceding the award and must be in English. The prize was established in 2005 and has been given every year at a national meeting of the Association, beginning in 2007, the 300th anniversary of the birth of Leonhard Euler. This award also honors Virginia and Paul Halmos whose generosity made the award possible.

Women mathematicians who have won the prize are:


Beckenback Book Prize

The Beckenbach Book Prize, established in 1986, is the successor to the MAA Book Prize established in 1982. It is named for the late Edwin Beckenbach, a long-time leader in the publications program of the Association and a well-known professor of mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The Prize of $2,500 is intended to recognize the author(s) of a distinguished, innovative book published by the MAA and to encourage the writing of such books. The award is not given on a regularly scheduled basis. To be considered for the Beckenbach Prize a book must have been published during the five years preceding the Award.

Women who have won the prize are:

For more information about the Beckenback prize, see http://www.maa.org/programs/maa-awards/writing-awards/beckenbach-book-prize.


MacArthur Fellowships

MacArthur fellowships, popularly known as the "genius awards," cannot be applied for; rather, candidates are drawn from a pool of initial nominations by an anonymous group of 100 people. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation aims to recognize people whose achievements in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and public affairs show the promise of even greater accomplishments in the future. There are no strings attached. Recipients can spend the money, usually anywhere from $150,000 to $375,000 over a period of five years, anyway they want. The fellowships were established in 1981.

Women mathematicians who have received MacArthur Fellowships are:


Alice T. Schafer Prize

The Schafer Prize is awarded to an undergraduate woman in recognition of excellence in mathematics and is sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics The Schafer Prize was established in 1990 by the executive committee of the AWM and is named for former AWM president and one of its founding members, Alice T. Schafer, who has contributed a great deal to women in mathematics throughout her career. The criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to, the quality of the nominees' performance in mathematics courses and special programs, exhibition of real interest in mathematics, ability to do independent work, and if applicable, performance in mathematical competitions.

The winners of the Schafer Prize have been:

For more information about the Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman, see Alice T. Schafer Prize at the Association for Women in Mathematics web site.


M. Gweneth Humphreys Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Women in Mathematics

This award presented by the Association for Women in Mathematics is named for M. Gweneth Humphreys (1911-2006). Professor Humphreys taught mathematics to women for her entire career at Mount St. Scholastica College, Sophie Newcomb College, and finally at Randolph Macon Woman's College for over thirty years. The award recognizes her commitment to and her profound influence on undergraduate students of mathematics.

Recipients have been:

For more information about this award, see Humphreys Award at the Association for Women in Mathematics web site.


AWM-Microsoft Research Prize

The AWM-Microsoft Research Prize serves to highlight exceptional research in some area of algebra by a woman early in her career. The field will be broadly interpreted to include number theory, cryptography, combinatorics and other applications, as well as more traditional areas of algebra. The prize will be awarded every other year, beginning in 2014.

Recipients have been:


AWM-Sadosky Research Prize

The AWM-Sadosky Research Prize serves to highlight exceptional research in analysis by a woman early in her career. The field will be broadly interpreted to include all areas of analysis. The award is named for Cora Sadosky, a former president of AWM. The prize will be awarded every other year, beginning in 2014.

Recipients have been:


AWM-Joan & Joseph Birman Research Prize in Topology and Geometry

The purpose of the award is to highlight exceptional research in topology and geometry by a woman early in her career. The field will be broadly interpreted to include topology, geometry, geometric group theory and related areas. The award is made possible by a generous contribution from Joan Birman whose work has been in low dimensional topology and her husband, Joseph, who is a theoretical physicist whose specialty is applications of group theory to solid state physics. The prize will be awarded every other year, beginning in 2015.

Recipients have been:


MAA Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics

The Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics is the most prestigious award made by the Mathematical Association of America. This award, first given in 1990, is the successor to the Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics, awarded since 1962.

Women mathematicians who have won this award or the previous Distinguished Service Award are:


Sylvester Medal of the Royal Society of London

The Sylvester Medal has been awarded by the Royal Society of London every three years since 1901 for the encouragement of mathematical research without regard to nationality. It is given in honor of Professor J. J. Sylvester.

Women mathematicians who have won the Sylvester Medal are:

Complete list of winners of the Sylvester Medal


De Morgan Medal of the London Mathematical Society

The De Morgan Medal, the London Mathematical Society's premier award, is awarded every third year in memory of Professor A. De Morgan, the Society's first President. The only criteria for the award is the candidate's contributions to mathematics. The medal was first awarded in 1884.

Women mathematicians who have won the De Morgan Medal are:

Complete list of winners of the De Morgan Medal


Adams Prize

The Adams Prize, given annually by the University of Cambridge to a British mathematician under the age of 40, commemorates the discovery by John Couch Adams of the planet Neptune through calculation of the discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus. It was endowed by members of St John's College, Cambridge, and approved by the Senate of the University in 1848. Each year applications are invited from mathematicians who have worked in a specific area of mathematics.

Women mathematicians who have won the Adams Prize are:


CRM-Fields-PIMS Prize

The CRM-Fields-PIMS prize is intended to be the premier mathematics prize in Canada. The prize recognizes exceptional achievement in the mathematical sciences. The winner's research should have been conducted primarily in Canada or in affiliation with a Canadian university. The main selection criterion is outstanding contribution to the advancement of research. The prize was established by the Centre de recherches mathematiques and the Fields Institute as the CRM-Fields prize in 1994. In 2005, Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) became an equal partner.

Women mathematicians who have won the CRM-Fields-PIMS prize are:


Florence Nightingale David Award

The Florence Nightingale David Award recognizes a female statistician who exemplifies the contributions of Florence Nightingale David. The award is to be granted to a female statistician who serves as a role model to other women by her contributions to the profession through excellence in research, leadership of multidisciplinary collaborative groups, statistics education, or service to the professional societies. Winners of the award have been:


Elizabeth L. Scott Award

This award shall recognize an individual who exemplifies the contributions of Elizabeth L. Scott's lifelong efforts to further the careers of women in academia. The award is given every other year in even numbered years. Winners of the award have been:


Janet L. Norwood Award

The Janet L. Norwood award is presented annually by the School of Public Health at The University of Alabama at Birmingham to recognize outstanding achievement by a woman in the statistical sciences. Dr. Janet Norwood was the first woman commissioner of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and served as president of the American Statistical Association. The winners of the award have been:

UAB web site about the Janet L. Norwood Award.


Salem Prize

The Salem Prize, founded in 1968 by the widow of Raphael Salem, is awarded every year to a young mathematician judged to have done outstanding work in Salem's field of interest, primarily Fourier series and related areas in analysis. The prize is considered highly prestigious. Women who have won the Salem Prize are:


Blackwell-Tapia Prize

Founded in 2002, this prize is awarded every second year in honor of the legacy of David H. Blackwell and Richard A. Tapia, two distinguished mathematical scientists who have been inspirations to more than a generation of African American, Latino/Latina, and Native American students and professionals in the mathematical sciences. It recognizes a mathematical scientist who has contributed and continues to contribute significantly to research in his or her field of expertise, and who has served as a role model for mathematical scientists and students from underrepresented minority groups or contributed in other significant ways to addressing the problem of the under-representation of minorities in mathematics. Women who have won the Blackwell-Tapia Prize are:


AWM Emmy Noether Lecturers

The Association for Women in Mathematics established the Emmy Noether Lectures to honor women who have made fundamental and sustained contributions to the mathematical sciences. These one-hour expository lectures are presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings each January. The Emmy Noether Lecturers have been:

AWM web site about the Emmy Noether Lectures.


Emmy Noether Lecturers, International Congress of Mathematicians

The Emmy Noether Lectures at the International Congress of Mathematicians, held every four years, is jointly organized by European Women in Mathematics, the Committee on Women of the Canadian Mathematical Society, and the Association for Women in Mathematics.


AWM/MAA Falconer Lecturers

The Association for Women in Mathematics and the Mathematical Association of America annually present the Etta Z. Falconer Lectures to honor women who have made distinguished contributions to the mathematical sciences or mathematics education. These one-hour expository lectures are presented at Mathfest each summer. While the lectures began with Mathfest 1996, the title "Etta Z. Falconer Lecture" was established in 2004 in memory of Falconer's profound vision and accomplishments in enhancing the movement of minorities and women into scientific careers. The Falconer Lecturers have been:

AWM web site about the Falconer Lectures.


AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecturers

The Association for Women in Mathematics in cooperation with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) sponsors the AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevksy Lecture Series. The lecture is given annually at the SIAM Annual Meeting by a woman who has made distinguished contributions in applied or computational mathematics. The lectureship may be awarded to any woman in the scientific or engineering community. The Kovalevsky Lecturers have been:

See the AWM web site or the SIAM webs site for more information about the Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture.


Krieger-Nelson Prize Lectureship for Distinguished Research by Women in Mathematics

The Canadian Mathematical Society inaugurated the The Krieger-Nelson Prize to recognize outstanding research by a female mathematician. The first prize was awarded in 1995. The winners have been:

As part of its celebrations of the World Mathematical Year in 2000, the Canadian Mathematical Society sponsored the creation of a poster on women in mathematics. The poster features the six outstanding women mathematicians who were awarded the Krieger-Nelson prize from 1995 to 2000.


Mary Cartwright Lecturers

The Mary Cartwright Lecture is an annual event organized by the London Mathematical Society and forms part of the annual program of Society Meetings. Lectures are given by both a female and male mathematician each year. Female lecturers have been:

More information about the Mary Cartwright Lecture can be found at the London Mathematical Society website.


American Mathematical Society Colloquium Lecturers

The American Mathematical Society Colloquium Lectures have been presented since 1896. Women mathematicians who have presented lectures are:

Complete list of the AMS Colloquium Lecturers.


Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecturers

To commemorate the name of Professor Gibbs, the American Mathematical Society established an honorary lectureship in 1923 to be known as the Josiah Willard Gibbs Lectureship. The lectures are of a semi-popular nature and are given by invitation. They are usually devoted to mathematics or its applications. It is hoped that these lectures will enable the public and the academic community to become aware of the contribution that mathematics is making to present-day thinking and to modern civilization.

Women mathematicians who have presented the Josiah Willard Gibbs Lectures have been:


Earle Raymond Hedrick Lecturers

The Earle Raymond Hedrick Lectures were established by the Mathematical Association of America in 1952 to present to the Association a lecturer of known skill as an expositor of mathematics "who will present a series of at most three lectures accessible to a large fraction of those who teach college mathematics."

Women mathematicians who have presented the Earle Raymond Hedrick Lectures have been:


J. Sutherland Frame Lectures

The J. Sutherland Frame Lectures were established by Pi Mu Epsilon to honor James Sutherland Frame who was instrumental in founding the Pi Mul Epsilon Journal and in creating the Pi Mu Epsilon Summer Student Paper Conferences in conjunction with the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. The lectures are presented at the summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America.

Women mathematicians who have presented the J. Sutherland Frame Lectures have been:

Complete List of J. Sutherland Frame Lecturers.


Presidents of the Association for Women in Mathematics

The Association for Women in Mathematics was established in 1971 to encourage women to enter careers in mathematics and related areas, and to promote equal opportunity and equal treatment of women in the mathematical community. The Presidents of the AWM have been:


Presidents of the Mathematical Association of America

In December 1915, ten women and 96 men met at The Ohio State University to established the organization that became the Mathematical Association of America. Women who have served as President of the MAA have been


Presidents of the American Mathematical Society

The American Mathematical Society was founded in 1889. Since then, women who have served as President of the AMS have been


Presidents of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) was incorporated in 1952 as a nonprofit organization to convey useful mathematical knowledge to other professionals who could implement mathematical theory for practical, industrial, or scientific use. Women who have served as President of SIAM have been


Presidents of The Society for Mathematical Biology

The Society for Mathematical Biology, founded in 1973, is an international society that exists to promote and foster interactions between the mathematical and biological sciences communities. Women who have served as President of the Society have been