Picture a Scientist: Celebrating Maryam Mirzakhani and Women in Mathematics in 2021.


May 12 marks the birthday of Maryam Mirzakhani, to date the first and only woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics. Mirzakhani’s short but exceptional life offers inspiration for all women considering their own place in the field.

Though her academic prowess was recognized as a young woman, Mirzakhani displayed an early interest in a career as a writer and was known to read books with voracious enthusiasm. Nevertheless, her rare mathematical gifts were recognized as excellent from a young age, as her classmates recalled her unique ability to solve mathematical problems in a variety of ways. As a young woman in Iran, she and her friend Roya Beheshti became the first women to represent Iran at the competition. She went on to win two gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad, Mirzakhani quickly became a role model for other Iranian girls interested in mathematics.

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Copyright © 2021, Mathematical Association of America.