Science has no gender: A mathematician


Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Can you tell the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of mathematics.

Age: 38

Seniority: Professor

What do you investigate?

“There are generalisations of the rational numbers which are called algebraic numbers. There is a rich theory for these mathematical objects, and much is still to be discovered. For example, many problems relate to open questions concerning the prime numbers. I have also investigated the so-called elliptic curves, which are geometrical objects (being curves) but also algebraic objects (because the curve is described by an algebraic equation). Here there is a nice interplay between algebra and geometry.”

Ultimate goal of your science?

“My research contributes to the fields “algebraic number theory” and “arithmetic geometry”, which are two pillars for cryptography. Cryptography determines how we secure our data in every-day life.”

Highlighted scientific discoveries

“I solved a conjecture which had been open for seven years, and in general I tend to see things that people have overlooked.”

If you have children, have you ever been in a situation where certain expectations from your peers changed after/because you have children, or felt excluded in any way?

“I have one child. No problems at all.”

Have you ever have you ever been treated differently because of your gender? or maybe found yourself being the only person of your gender in the room? if yes, how did you deal with this situation, or what did you think? did it discourage you or make you feel even more motivated to continue?

“It happened to me to (regularly) have twice as much teaching as a my colleague with the same position but of the opposite gender: the problem got solved when I changed university. I am so used of being the only person of my gender at the canteen’s table, in a meeting, in class that I do not notice this anymore. I take it as a matter of fact. Possibly I am clumsier with other scientists of my gender because I am not used to them.”


This scientist is Prof Antonella Perucca, an Italian/German national. She started the University in Italy (at the prestigious Scuola Normale Superiore) at only 17, and continued her career in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany with also research visits in France, the Netherlands, and Canada. She became a lecturer at 30, and a professor at 35.

Food for thought: Did you expect this scientist to be a man, or a woman? If you thought one or the other, what were your reasons?

More in the ‘Science has no gender’ series (more to follow!)

Science has no gender: A social geographer

Science has no gender: A telecommunications engineer

Science has no gender: An experimental psychologist

Science has no gender: A computer scientist

Science has no gender: An ecohydrologist

Science has no gender: A psychologist

More support needed for women (to pursue a career) in science

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