A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the latest installation of the Women in Numbers conferences, Women in Numbers – Europe at the CIRM in Luminy. (Side note: WINE must be the best acronym for a conference held in France ever). This successful series of conferences started in 2008, mostly under the impetus of Kristin Lauter. The conferences have been great for creating a network of women doing research in Number Theory, and have led to fruitful collaborations and two proceedings volumes (one of which is in the presses as we speak, er, write). I have written before about how much I love these research-focused workshops for women, and my love for workshops in general, so in an effort not to repeat myself in this post I will mainly share some photos and memories from the experience, in no particular order.
As I mention above, one of the greatest successes of the Women in Numbers series is the development of collaborations and mentoring relationships between women working in Number Theory. The last two WIN conferences were held at Banff, in Canada, so were much more accessible to women living in the Americas, and especially North America. WIN-E was intended to create the same kinds of networks and connections but in Europe. I hear there are plans to start one in Asia, and there was even talk of holding the next WIN-E in Turkey (for which I suggested the acronym WIN-Tur, which is definitely not as appealing as WIN-E, although someone else suggested the catchy tagline “WIN-Tur is coming” – I think we’re on to something).
The workshop, like many others, had talks in the morning, working sessions in the afternoon, and talks by the project groups on the last day. I find this structure very productive and better for concentration during talks. The talks were given by each of the project leaders and introduced the topic to the rest of the audience. This made it easier for each group to jump into their progress reports at the end of the week. I was very impressed with the range of topics and the quality of the talks and subsequent work by all of the groups.
At the latest Women in Sage conference I led a group for the first time. Somehow, that wasn’t so daunting a prospect because it is easy to come up with things you want other people to compute and write code for. This time, I co-lead a group with Leila Schneps (with whom I worked this past year during my pre-tenure leave), and it was much scarier. It was fine, of course, and it was very fun to work on this project with new (and very smart) people. But beforehand I was pretty nervous about leading a project. It also helped that Leila was doing more of the leading and I was more like a Teaching Assistant than the professor. The group has been corresponding since and they have even proved new things independently, which is very exciting (I, on the other hand, seem to have been grading non-stop since I got back, which does not lead to research productivity).
As is common in most long conferences, we had an afternoon off. The planning was perfect, because we had the most beautiful weather on the afternoon off. Some of the more adventurous ladies hiked all the way to Cassis. The rest of us took a shorter hike to the coast. We saw some amazing views and then went down to the beach for a brief (and mildly chilly) swim. The whole afternoon was just spectacular. Walking and chatting with the other conference people also presented a different (and welcome) venue for us to get to know each other. All in all, a beautiful day.
I loved this conference, and I look forward to keeping in touch (although I didn’t get to know everyone in attendance), continuing my group’s collaboration, and attending more of these great workshops (registration closed for WIN 3 in mid-October, but keep your eyes peeled for more conferences to come!). Until then, so long ladies, and thanks for all the math (and wine).