PaulaMaths is not just for men

Paula is studying for a PhD in Applied Maths where she is part of a team of scientists who are using their knowledge to prevent climate change.

Her research focuses on how using renewable energy sources would affect electricity prices.

Paula is also a member of our Student Blogs team, regularly sharing information on her Imperial experience.

"Maths isn’t a subject for women. They excel in humanities, and maybe medicine, but mathematics is a male domain.

"You’ve probably heard people say this kind of thing many times. What’s the reality though?"

I’m a woman pursuing a PhD in mathematics at Imperial.

I work in the Mathematics of Planet Earth programme. We’re a group of young mathematicians (and a few physicists and engineers) who research a variety of topics connected to the weather, climate and climate change. For example, I study the influence of wind energy generation on electricity prices.

I do my research in collaboration with a French electricity provider.

Having an industrial partner allows me to apply advanced (and very exciting) mathematical and statistical tools to solve a real-world problem.

The ultimate task is to help increase the generation of clean energy, which is one way of tackling climate change.

And I can be a part of it – how cool is that!

My work is worth as much as the work of my male colleagues – not less, not more. Gender has absolutely nothing to do with our abilities or interests."

Even as an undergraduate I loved waking up and travelling to lectures because I knew that I’d learn new fascinating things. I mean, which other degree will give you the knowledge about different types of infinities?

My favourite part of doing a PhD is going to academic conferences. Standing up and presenting your results in front of experts from all over the world might be a bit stressful, but it is also very, very rewarding. This is our way of saying: “Look, I’ve worked hard and managed to prove that...”

Conferences are also plenty of fun. You can make friends, enjoy conference dinners and see new places.

During my PhD I’ve already attended scientific events in Philadelphia, Paris, Vienna, Aarhus, Cambridge, Oxford. Not to mention that the best ideas often come from informal chats with fellow mathematicians you meet at these events.

At conferences it can definitely feel like mathematics is a male-dominated field. In terms of numbers, women are usually the minority in the room. My question is: so what? I’ve never ever felt that other scientists treat me differently in any way because of my gender.

My work is worth as much as the work of my male colleagues – not less, not more.

Gender has absolutely nothing to do with our abilities or interests. There are even perks: I bet that mathematical conference venues are one of the only places in the world where queues to the female toilets are shorter than to male ones!

Maths doesn’t discriminate; it’s for the young and old, girls and guys, computer geeks and artistic souls. Maths is fun. It’s fun that you have to work for, but it’s so worth it. Make sure you don’t miss out!