A call for action.

As decades pass, there is a critical issue that requires our attention and action before it is too late. Next time you are in a math workshop, take a moment to look around. What do you see? We are at risk of cementing a status quo that excludes many potential voices – voices that we really need if we are to thrive as a community. It had been some years since being the sole woman in a workshop - and as I reach my forties, this has an even more bitter taste than the already quite frequent sole female speaker spot. Inclusivity and equity shouldn’t just be ideals we sometimes think about, or we sometimes talk about; they require our active effort. This isn’t just about the people in the seminar room you might be at – it extends to whom we invite and include. As organizers we sometimes do commendable attempts to include women, but very often, noticeably absent are younger women and early-career researchers. This situation sheds light on broader issues. It’s not only about who’s missing but why they’re missing. It reveals the structural barriers built into how we organize and promote these events. I really think we need to move beyond merely acknowledging these issues to actively addressing them. We must challenge our assumptions, reevaluate our methods, and ensure we’re truly opening doors to everyone. As a community, we need to discuss how we can better support all potential members of our community, through mentorship, sponsorship, and practical support.

Could more senior speakers, when invited to speak, bring along their younger students?
Could they suggest their female collaborators to give seminars?
Could we ask participants for suggestions of names of people who might be interested in the topics of choice?
Could we, as a community, keep track of our community and how it evolves and grows?

For instance, keeping an eye on lists like this one of women geometers?

Much like Sir Michael Atiyah reached out to Ed Witten, fostering interactions between fields, will not only push our research forward but will likely also open up new pathways of thinking and problem-solving. Could we further our efforts towards equity, for instance, bringing along young minds in different areas together.

Building a diverse community offers invaluable benefits - indeed, different perspectives enrich our discussions, prevent our subfields from becoming insular and stale, and propel us forward. I am concerned that without reaching out, different areas in math will stagnate. Aiming for speaker lists and participants that are not just rotations of the same names but include a range of ages, backgrounds, genders, and specialties will allow our mathematics to thrive. Throughout my career, I’ve learned immensely from engaging with diverse minds - not just from my supervisor but also from fantastic researchers that became role models within my graduate studies department from geometer and topologist Francis Kirwan and Ulrike Tillmann, further afield mathematicians like Alison Etheridge or Alicia Dickenstain. Having role models we can look up to, learn from, and inspire us is essential for us to grow as mathematicians, but more importantly, to feel we can become mathematicians even if we belong to an underrepresented community.

Together, we can make a lasting impact. But each time more often I wonder if it is too late, and time to give up.