Reprinted from the Kovalevskaie Fund Newsletter, Vol. XII, No.1, January 1997, pp5-6. Address for correspondence: Dr. Ann Hibner Koblitz, Director, Kovalevskaia Fund, 6547 17th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98115.
Starting [in 1997], the girls who perform best in Vietnam's national mathematics olympiads will be awarded the Cora Ratto de Sadosky Prize. Named in memory of an Argentinian mathematician and political activist, the prize is sponsored by Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training, the Vietnam Women's Union, the Kovalevskaia Fund, and the Sadosky family.
In Vietnam, the national olympiad is held in March. The Sadosky prizes will be awarded in April or May, when the best-performing students from all over the country gather in Hanoi to take the final qualifying test used to select Vietnam's team for the International Olympiad (which, coincidentally, will be held in Argentina in 1997).
In the past, of the approximately 400 students who have taken the national olympiad each year, only about 10% have been girls. We hope and expect that this proportion will increase substantially as a result of publicity about the Sadosky Prize. There are many thousands of top-notch female math students in the secondary schools\break throughout Vietnam. With more encouragement from their teachers and parents, many more of them would take part in the competition.
In 1997 four Sadosky Prizes will be given, one for $150 and three for $100. Each winner will also receive a certificate signed by representatives of the three sponsoring organizations and the Sadosky family. One of the four winners will be chosen from the mountainous regions. The educational system in those areas is at a lower level than in the cities and lowlands, and so a separate, somewhat easier version of the national olympiad is organized for the highlands.
Vietnam is not, of course, the only country with inexcusably low levels of female participation in the math olympiads. In most countries, in fact, there is a need for concrete steps to encourage more girls to enter the competition. If the overall level of female participation increases, then in the future there will be many more young women like Maryam Mirzakhani of Iran (see the November 1995 Newsletter), who obtained a perfect score of 42 at the International Olympiad in Toronto.