Working Group for Equal Opportunities

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799)

Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799)

Mary Fleener, Emmy Noether (1882-1935)

Mary Fleener, Emmy Noether (1882-1935)










The UMI Group for Equal Opportunities was founded in late 2012 under the initiative of the President of UMI. Its goals are to develop different issues related to the presence and the role of women in Mathematics, with specific analysis and actions.

The theme “gender&science” has been long investigated at international level like ”Gender and Science” in the programs of the European Community.
The most striking feature of the problem is the lack of women in scientific research, particularly in senior positions and in decision-making roles. This is particularly true in mathematics, where there is a large number of female students in the degree programs, but a small percentage of women who choose to continue in research, which become extremely low to higher levels of career.

The problem is complex and requires various actions at different levels, for example in educational guidance or in organization and selection modalities. Data and studies on the subject, links to other organizations, national and international, related to women in science, and the actions that will be implemented, will be collected in these pages.

Who we are

Cinzia Cerroni (coordinator), Department of Mathematics and Computer Science – University of Palermo

Anna Maria Cherubini, Department of Mathematics and Physics – University of Salento – Lecce

Patrizia Colella, Liceo Palmieri – Lecce, “Associazione Donne e Scienza”

Adriana Garroni, Department of Mathematics – University of Rome La Sapienza

Barbara Nelli, Department of Engineering and Computer Science and Mathematics – University of L’Aquila

Elizabetta Strickland, INdAM Vice-President, Department of Mathematics – University of Rome “Tor Vergata”

Susanna Terracini, Department of Mathematics – University of Turin, “European Women in Mathematics”

Sofia Tirabassi, Mathematics Department – University of Utah

Who we were, until August 2015: Livia Giacardi (coordinator), Cinzia Cerroni, Anna Maria Cherubini, Patrizia Colella, Elizabeth Strickland, Susanna Terracini, Sofia Tirabassi


The gift of Claire Voisin for mathematics
Claire Voisin has become the first woman elected to the Collège de France in the oldest Department of Mathematics in the world. At her assignment a Conference was held, where also three Italian mathematicians were invited to speak. They were Enrico Arbarello, Kieran O’Grady and Giulia Saccà, the only woman and the youngest speaker among twelve. Inter alia, Giulia already distinguished herself in the past being awarded with the Enriques Prize by UMI. This year Claire Voisin was also awarded with the Gold Medal of CNRS, the French highest scientific distinction. You can discover more of this foreign member of the Istituto Lombardo and of the Accademia dei Lincei reading the dialogue by Barbara Fantechi and Gianluca Piacenza.

Board on “Gender Issues” (XX Congress UMI, Siena 09/07/2015)

Margherita Lelli Chiesa was accepted to Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2015

Numbers for women. Women and Mathematics
An exhibition organized by The Garden of Archimedes, Florence 6-27 March 2015, Palazzo Panciatichi, Via Cavour 2. The panels of the exhibition.

Fields Medal to Maryam Mirzakhani

During the twenty-seventh International Congress of Mathematicians held in Seoul in South Korea (13 to 21 August 2014), the president of the International Mathematical Union, Ingrid Daubechies, first woman to hold this office, announced the winners:

Artur Avila, Manjul Bhargava, Martin Hairer and the first woman to win this award, the Iranian Maryam Mirzakhani:

Conferences and workshops 2013-2015


  • Investigation on the distribution for each university of men/women in the various grades of the academic career in mathematics, from graduating to full professors; the distribution of women/men in the various areas of mathematical research; the composition of academic senates and boards of directors:

    Statistics on the gender situation in Area 01

        (as of 31.12.2013)

    – Mathematical and Computer Sciences, based on the Ministry website, edited by Cynthia Cerroni

  • Survey on excellence through the study of the mechanisms of selection at the Olympics in mathematics through questionnaires to teachers and students.
    In order to do that, the following questionnaires were distributed to teachers and students:- Questionnaire for Teachers
    – Questionnaire for secondary school degree StudentsThe first one was distributed to teachers during the conference CIIM 2013 (Salerno, 17-18-19 October 2013).
    65 responses were collected. Data analysis, by Patrizia Collella, improves the questionnaires themselves for an investigation on a larger scale

    Questionnaire on cultural and family background and careers
    This data analysis was prepared by Maria Teresa Turning (University of Turin)

  • Conferences, seminars, conferences organized by the Group
    Turin 19/12/2013
    C. Silvia Roero, “Matematica e cultura scientifica al femminile nel Settecento piemontese e lombardo: Clelia Grillo Borromeo, Maria Gaetana Agnesi e Diodata Saluzzo Roero”
    Turin 06/03/2014
    Women scientists: Presentation Susanna Terracini
    Sandra Linguerri, “Maestri e allieve: il caso di Vito Volterra”
    Turin 03/27/2014
    Erika Luciano, “Ebree la cui religione si confonde con il culto dell’Italia: il caso delle insegnanti torinesi (1848-1938)”


Report of the last Gender Summit, just concluded in Brussels (l7 July 2014):
The site links to other interesting documents on gender issues.

Document on gender issues in HORIZON 2020

ANVUR Table – ANVUR Final Report of 30 June 2013:
In Table 2.13 the distributions of the subjects evaluated in the various categories of membership are reported for each area, highlighting also the matter of gender. It is interesting to notice that the percentage of women in the three main categories of universities and research institutions, overall modest, is significantly greater among scientists than among ordinary and associate professors. It is also interesting to note that the percentages are still lower in institutions than in universities. The gender distribution, taking into account the fact that graduate female students are more than graduate male students, shows how a research career is still difficult to access for the female component.

Situation of gender in Italian mathematics updated to 2013 by Lucia Maddalena (AMASES Vice-President) and Elizabeth Strickland (INdAM Vice-President)
The glass ceiling for female mathematicians in Italy

She figures 2012

The entire report is available in section “attachments”.

By Roman Frattini and Paolo Rossi: Report on women in Italian University, 2012, in Menodizero, Rivista dell’Università in Movimento

The entire report is available in section “attachments”.

From “I laureati e il lavoro”, Survey 2011 on graduates in 2007, Statistics ISTAT, 8 June 2012

The entire report is available in section “attachments”.

Where to find more information:
Database MIUR-Office of Statistics:

She figures 2009 Statistics and indicators on gender equality in science:

She figures 2012

The Global Gender Gap Report, 2012:

Helen Shen, Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap, Nature 495, 2013

Italian centers
Interdisciplinar Center for Research and Studies on Women:

The Centre was established in the spring of 1991 at the suggestion of a group of professors and researchers of the University of Turin, as a framework for research initiatives, education and cultural encounter among female scholars and researchers interested in gender issues. Its official journal is “Quaderni di Donna & Ricerca”

Interdepartmental Centre ABCD-Milan:

It is a Interdepartmental Centre of the University Milano-Bicocca created with the intention “to contribute to the enhancement and dissemination of studies on gender, with a focus on analysis about the ways in which gender differences, inequalities and relations are expressed through societies and cultures. ”


Association Femmes et Mathematiques:

Founded in 1987, the association has the following main objectives: to encourage women to study mathematics and science in general; to act in order to achieve equality in recruitment in universities; to sensitize the scientific community towards gender issues; to facilitate the matching of women mathematicians.

“Donne e Scienza”:

This is the site of the “Donne e Scienza” association, whose main aim is “to promote women’s entry and careers in science and to modify institutions on the basis of a critical analysis of contemporary science.” There also appears a rich bibliography of reference.

European Women in Mathematics:

The EWM is a women’s association that aims at encouraging other women to start and continue their studies in Mathematics; to help those who wish to pursue a career in research, creating places and opportunities to meet; to foster international communication between men and women in the mathematical community and to cooperate with other groups and organizations – in Europe and in the world – that have similar objectives. In the website there are also a number of statistics on women, their insertion in universities and research institutes, the firts university choices, the greater difficulties encountered in mathematics the difference compared to their colleagues, etc..

International Organisation of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME):

This organization was established in 1976. During the third International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-3), a conference on “Women and Mathematics” was organized. It is an international network of people and groups that seek to achieve equality in education and who are interested in the links between gender and teaching and learning of mathematics. See also:

“STReGA” Project:

The “STReGA” Project by the University of Salento and by the “Donne e Scienza” association, has been funded by the Ministry of Labour under the plan of affirmative action (art. 44 DL 198/2006, formerly Art. 2 Law 125/1991) and has been held at the Department of Mathematics from 2008 to February 2011. In the course of the project there have been actions aimed at women involved in scientific research and orientation activities for female students of high school to studies and scientific papers. In the pages of the project you can find links to the individual projects, with documentation.

Women in mathematics:

Site of the London Mathematical Society. See in particular the “Good Practice Scheme” ( developed by Women in Mathematics Committee and its report “Advancing women in mathematics: good practice in UK university departments” (

Bibliography on issues of gender and science

A) articles, books and documents


  • Various Authors, in “Special Section on Women in Science”, Nature, 495, 2013, pp. 5-134. (Collection of various articles about women in scientific research, with data)
  • Sabina Passamonti, “L’università senza donne”, La voce, March 8, 2013
  • Patrizia Colella 2012, “Donne e scienza. Con la meritocrazia servono quote azzurre”, Sapere, pp. 64-65.
  • Roman Frattini, Paolo Rossi 2012, “Report sulle donne nell’Università italiana”, in Menodizero, Rivista dell’Università in Movimento
  • Manuel Bagues and Natalia Zinovyeva 2011, “Donne che giudicano le donne”. In cattedra
  • Christine Wenneras and Agnes Wold, “Nepotism and sexism in peer review”, Nature, 387 (1997)Books
  • Rossella Palomba, “Sognando parità”, Ponte alle Grazie, Firenze, 2013
  • Anna Maria Cherubini, Patrizia Colella, Cristina Mangia 2001 “Empowerment e orientamento di genere nella scienza. Dalla teoria alle buone pratiche”, Milano, Franco Angeli
  • ISTAT, “Donne all’Università”, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2001.
  • Rossella Palomba (eds) 2000, “Figlie di Minerva. Primo rapporto sulle carriere femminili negli enti pubblici di ricerca italiani”, Milano, Franco Angeli. 2000
  • Virginia Valian, “Why so slow? The advancement of women”, MIT Press, 1998
    Evelyn Fox Keller, “Sul Genere e la Scienza, Garzanti”, Milano,1987Documenti e report
  • 2010: Stocktaking 10 years of “Women in science 1999-2009”
  • 2009: ISTAT “I numeri dell’università”
  • 2009: Rapporto PRAGES, “Linee guida per i programmi di promozione dell’eguaglianza di genere nella scienza”
  • 2008: Mapping the maze: getting more women to the top in research
  • Report of the “Conseil Scientifique de l’Institut National des Sciences mathématiques et de leurs Interactions” Rapport_prospective_CS_INSMI_sept 2014. See in particular paragraph VII. “Questions de Parité”B) Articles and books concerning women of science in history
  • Paola Govoni 2013, “The Power of Weak Competitors: Women Scholars”, “Popular Science”, and the Building of a Scientific Community in Italy, 1860s-1930, in ‘Science in Context’, 26 (3), pp. 505-436
  • Miriam Focaccia (a cura di) 2012, “Dizionario biografico delle scienziate italiane (secoli XVIII-XX) Vol. 1 Architette, chimiche, fisiche, dottoresse”, Bologna, Pendragon 2012
  • Sandra Linguerri (a cura di) 2012, “Dizionario biografico delle scienziate italiane (secoli XVIII-XX) Vol. 2 Matematiche, astronome, naturaliste”, Bologna, Pendragon
  • Valeria Babini, Raffaella Simili (a cura di) 2012, “More than pupils. Italian Women in Science”, Firenze, Olschki
  • Elisabetta Strickland 2011, Scienziate d’Italia, Roma, Donzelli
  • Raffaella Simili, Emanuela Reale 2011, “Nella città di Ipazia. Donne di scienza, in Storia d’Italia. Annali 26. Scienze e cultura dell’Italia unita”, a cura di Francesco Cassata, Claudio Pogliano, Torino, Giulio Einaudi Editore, pp. 893-919.
  • Raffaella Simili 2011, “Le donne nella comunità scientifica, prima e dopo l’Unità, in Atti del Convegno Scienziati italiani e Unità d’Italia”: Roma, 14-17 novembre 2011, Accademia nazionale delle scienze detta dei XL, Roma, Aracne, pp. 29-59.
  • Sandra Linguerri 2010, “Un matematico un po’ speciale. Vito Volterra e le sue allieve”, Bologna, Pendragon
  • Raffaella Simili 2010, “Sotto falso nome. Scienziate italiane ebree (1938-1945)”, Bologna, Pendragon
  • Sara Sesti e Liliana Moro 2010, “Scienziate nel tempo. 70 biografie” LUD, Milano
  • Erika Luciano, C. Silvia Roero (a cura di) 2008, “Numeri, atomi e alambicchi. Donne e scienza in Piemonte dal 1840 al 1960, Parte I, Centro Studi e Documentazione Pensiero Femminile”, Torino
  • Laura Toti Rigatelli 2007, Sophie Germain. “Una matematica dimenticata”, Milano Archinto
  • Gabriele Lolli 2000, “La crisalide e la farfalla. Donne e matematica”, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri
  • Marilyn Ogilvie, Joy Harvey (eds.) 2000, “Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science”, New York, Routledge
  • G. Fenaroli, F. Furinghetti, A, Garibaldi, A.M. Somaglia 1990, “Women and mathematical research in Italy during th period 1887-1946”. In L. Burton, “Gender and Mathematics. An international perspective”, London, Cassels, pp. 144-155.

    A bit of history

    “Scienza a due voci”. Italian women in science from the eighteenth to the twentieth century:

    The site provides the general public a biographical dictionary of “Italian scientists” that allows you to learn more about the role played by Italian women in the development and diffusion of science, from the eighteenth century to the contemporary age (women born before 1925 have been inserted only recently). The women who participated in the scientific enterprise were usually depicted as extraordinary phenomena, or muses of great scientists, or skilled workers alongside distinguished male professionals. This biographical dictionary offers a more authentic view on their contribution thanks to a painstaking, thorough and passionate research, and discover some almost unknown or forgotten faces and voices

    Biographies of Women Mathematicians:

    The site contains biographies, accompanied by photography and literature, of the main women mathematicians from the sixth century BC to the twentieth century.