In Carolyn Y. Johnson’s recent report on Maryam Mirzakhani’s winning the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, she wrote, “Mirzakhani should be known for her mathematical contributions, which are by all accounts remarkable, and not for her gender” (“Top female math scholar tells her story of achievement,” Metro, Aug. 18). Yet nearly all of Johnson’s article was spent talking about gender disparities in math and science.
While Johnson made some crucial points about gender inequality and supported her claims with strong evidence, she did not focus on Mirzakhani and her achievements as much as she should have. I would like to have read more about Mirzakhani’s ideas and other achievements and the work that won her the award in the first place.
It is important to recognize members of marginalized groups when they achieve great things, but it is equally important to recognize those people for what they do, not just their identity.