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The MATH+ Kovalevskaya Lunch

Even today fewer women complete a doctorate in mathematics than men. In 2019, only about 17% of math professors were women. Thus, there are fewer role models for early career female researchers. It is not uncommon for a female student or doctoral candidate to complete an entire study course without encountering one female professor. It is also not unusual for a female PhD student or postdoc to be the only woman in a working group.

The Kovalevskaya Lunch aims to help address this imbalance by inviting female professors in mathematics. Early career female researchers thus have the opportunity to meet role models, get to know them, and ask questions that would not be discussed in predominantly male environments.

In an informal atmosphere, the MATH+ Diversity Manager acts as the event’s presenter, briefly introducing the invited scientist, before going around the audience, whose members introduce themselves.
After the round of introductions, the guest is invited to introduce herself in more detail and to describe whether and how she received support throughout her career – more precisely whether she was already surrounded by people during her childhood, at school, or during her studies who supported or mentored her.
In addition, participants are usually interested in how career and private life are balanced, especially if she has a family.

Common questions are: What does a typical working day or week look like? What are the unpleasant aspects of a professorship and what is particularly fulfilling? How does she deal with doubts and perceived hurdles? What strategies were used to eliminate or deal with these? What challenges were there and what were the lessons learned? What does she consider her greatest success?
At the end of the lunch, the invited female mathematician usually gives personal tips. After about one hour, the moderated part ends and the participants are free to exchange ideas, network, and arrange appointments.

The great attraction of this event is to hear from a diverse range of women how they have dealt with success, but also with challenges and doubts in different ways, what they find frustrating, what or who has strengthened them, and how.

The Kovalevskaya Lunch takes place once a semester before the Kovalevskaya Lecture, which is part of the regular MATH+ Friday Colloquium series.

photo of Kovalevskaya-Lunch participants
30. Kovalevskaya-Lunch at 12 May 2023 with Anja Schlömerkemper, students, PhD students, BMS-Coordinator Annika Preuß-Vermeulen and MATH+ Gender-& Diversity Manager Tanja Fagel, Photo: Beate Rogler, 12.5.2023

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