Why college students should meet senior female mathematicians

On September 19th 2017, Nalini Joshi (University of Sydney) spoke about her research work and her professional career with students from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in a debate chaired by Ana Bravo, a tenured lecturer at the UAM and chair of the ICMAT Gender Commission. Joshi, who was the first woman to hold a position as professor at the University of Sydney, is an international expert in the field of integrable systems and throughout her career has worked on many initiatives in favour of gender equality in mathematics. This debate was held at the UAM Faculty of Sciences.

Nalini Joshi (University of Sydney) develops mathematical methods for studying integrable systems that arise as models in physics. Her work has made her one of the leading researchers in Australia and an international expert in the field of integrable systems. Furthermore, Joshi, who was the first woman to obtain a professorship at the University of Sydney, has worked tirelessly against gender discrimination at the university, and to promote with the support of various institutions female presence in all the fields of science.

Together with UAM lecturer and head of the Gender Commission, Ana Bravo, who organized the event, Joshi adressed these issues during a meeting attended by university students that was held on September 19th 2017 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Faculty of Science. “Our female students are demanding models”, said Bravo. “We need to show them that we are here; and that they can also be here in a few years”, she continued.

Nalini Joshi talks with university students about research in Mathematics
Nalini Joshi talks with university students about research in Mathematics

The activity formed part of the series of meetings entitled Diálogos sobre Género y Ciencia (Gender and Science Dialogues), to which leading international women researchers are invited to speak with university students, and share with them their experiences and thoughts about the situation of women in the mathematics research field. The aim of this programme, which is held annually as part of the ICMAT Gender Plan, is to provide students with role models of female mathematicians renowned worldwide for their research work, and promote consideration on gender issues in the university.

Nalini Joshi is head of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Sydney, where she was the first women to attain a professorship, a position she obtained at this university in 1981, although later she went on to complete her doctorate at Princeton University in 1984. Between 2008 and 2010 she was president of the Australian mathematical Society. She has also undertaken various projects in order to advance gender equality in science via different institutions.

She has been a visiting researcher at different research centres, such as the Isaac Newton Institute, the University of Cambridge and the RIMS (Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences) at Kyoto University. She is the author of more than 100 research papers, many of which are devoted to nonlinear differential equations, with a particular focus on asymptotic methods. She is currently engaged in the creation of a geometric framework to reveal properties of critical solutions of nonlinear models that reflect universal structures in physical models.