Potent quotables

Here are a few of my favorite “quotes” from the meetings so far (“”quotes”” instead of “quotes” because I did not write all of these down carefully, and so they are more like paraphrased/remembered versions of quotes).

“In mathematics, and more generally STEM, we teach to exclude. We teach in a way meant to weed people out of our courses, with the idea that only the “best” should survive. Math is not going to be fair and equitable until we change this culture.” Karen Saxe, AWM panel on Using mathematics in activism

“I don’t really buy into the idea of progress, although I will vote for it. What I really want to do is to burn it all down.” Piper Harron, AWM panel on Using mathematics in activism

AMS Education and Diversity Panel: (left to right) Helen Grundman, Edray Goins, Richard Laugesen, Richard McGehee, and Katrin Wehrheim.

“This is what I call the tragedy of the linear order. We think mathematicians are ranked linearly, like there’s a best mathematician, a second best mathematician, etc. We do this too with jobs. There is no such thing, and we must accept that.” Richard McGehee, AMS Education and Diversity Department Panel on Strategies for Diversifying Graduate Mathematics Programs

“There is a difference between an adviser and a mentor. You need an adviser for your Ph.D., but you should also find a mentor.” Edray Goins, AMS Education and Diversity Department Panel on Strategies for Diversifying Graduate Mathematics Programs

“We need some sort of database that records what percentage of students that are accepted into graduate programs actually pass their quals, and how many finish their Ph.D.” Katrin Wehrheim, AMS Education and Diversity Department Panel on Strategies for Diversifying Graduate Mathematics Programs

Enrique Trevino.

“Little know fact, although maybe known to many of you: Lagrange was actually Italian, not French. His name was Giuseppe Ludovico Lagrange, if I’m not mistaken.” Enrique Trevino, AMS Special Session on a Showcase of Number Theory at Liberal Arts Colleges. Some people nodded, but most people had their minds blown by this fact (myself included).

Out in Mathematics Panel (left to right): Juliette Bruce, Shelly Bouchat, Frank Farris, Ron Buckmire, Emily Riehl, and moderator Lily Khadjavi.

“I may look very well adjusted and happy, which I am, but most people don’t know that in the 80s I was very depressed — almost suicidal — because I felt so alone. I am here to tell you that it does get better.” Frank Farris, MAA panel on Out in Mathematics (co-sponsored by Spectra, the association for LGBTQ mathematicians).

“I just get a rush of adrenaline and then I speak my mind. It doesn’t always go very well. ” Emily Riehl, MAA panel on Out in Mathematics, when asked by moderator Lily Khadjavi about how she manages to be so brave.

And a bonus quote from my meeting with an editorial board I serve on. I saw what is possibly the best example of the Dunning-Kruger effect in math, when shown an excerpt of a response email to a paper rejection (a perfectly nice rejection, at that).

“I can tell your board is inept, because it is trivial to confirm the proof […] I am not surprised they are lazy and dismissive. My paper is the most brilliant paper ever written on the subject. […] Whoops, it’s the biggest blunder that mathematics has ever made, as a whole. This paper separates the men from the boys…” — Anonymous

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