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Maryam Mirzakhani Iranian math prof at Stanford
Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian maths professor at Stanford University in California, was named the first female winner of the Fields Medal – often described as the Nobel prize for mathematics – at a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday.
Three other researchers were named Fields Medal winners at the same ceremony in South Korea. They included Martin Hairer, a 38-year-old Austrian based at Warwick University in the UK, Manjul Bhargava, a 40-year old Canadian-American at Princeton University in the US and Artur Avila, 35, a Brazilian-French researcher at the Institute of Mathematics of Jussieu in Paris.
Christiane Rousseau, vice president of the International Mathematics Union, said: "It's an extraordinary moment. Marie-Curie had Nobel prizes in physics and at the beginning of the 20th century, but in mathematics this is the first time we have a woman winning the most prestigious prize there is. This is a celebration for women."
"I am thrilled that this day has finally come," said Sir Tim Gowers, a Fields medalist and mathematician at Cambridge University. "Although women have contributed to mathematics at the highest level for a long time, this fact has not been visible to the general public. I hope that the existence of a female Fields medalist, who will surely be the first of many, will put to bed many myths about women and mathematics, and encourage more young women to think of mathematical research as a possible career."