The AIMS Women in STEM (AIMSWIS) recently hosted Dr Nancy Neudauer as a speaker at their regular mentoring lunches. The mentoring lunch was held on 3 March 2020 at AIMS South Africa. The purpose of the lunch was for her to engage with the women students, tutors, and researchers at AIMS and to also share her experience as a female scientist. The focus of her talk was on the challenges women in science often face and the various factors to mitigate them.
Dr Neudauer highlighted the academic landscape and the representation of women in science in the United States, her home country. She commenced by pointing out that there are more women now studying mathematics than a few years ago. She also presented the statistics of the representation of women in academia. Her presentation showed that a significant number of students at American universities are women but the figures dwindle as they progress to postgraduate studies and professorships. She reasoned that women do much of the care taking at home in addition to having to compete in the academic world. Hence, they often lag behind their male counterparts.
Dr Neudauer pointed out that in order to ameliorate the gender disparity, men should be brought on board and contribute to reducing it. Amongst her recommendations was that men should also take on more household chores in order to provide some relief to women. She shared a pragmatic and inclusive approach to gender disparity in her field. According to her, she always encouraged men, for instance, to attend conferences related to women in Mathematics, such as the African Women in Mathematics Conference (AWIM) conference.
Dr Neudauer has advised female students to build networks throughout their careers and to find supportive communities: “I encourage female students to sit together and discuss their struggles and experiences at least once a week because the struggles between men and women are different and therefore have different demands,” she said.