x+y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

  • Speaker
  • Eugenia Cheng, Ph.D.Scientist-in-Residence, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Date & Time

About Presidential Lectures

Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.

What if we could do the impossible and remove gender from the equation? From imaginary numbers to the fourth dimension and beyond, mathematics has always been about imagining apparently impossible things. In this lecture, Eugenia Cheng will present a transformative new way of talking about the patriarchy, mansplaining and sexism: A way that empowers us to make the world a better place for all of us.

The question of why women and minorities are under-represented in mathematics is complex, and there are no simple answers, only many contributing factors. Cheng will draw on a combination of precise mathematical reasoning, techniques of abstract mathematical thinking and her experiences as a woman in the male-dominated field of mathematics. She will argue that if we focus on character traits rather than gender, we can have a more productive and less divisive conversation about math and beyond. She will present a new theory for doing so, showing that we can use abstract mathematical thinking to work towards a more inclusive society in this politically divisive era.

She will present the abstract field of category theory as a particularly inclusive subject area according to the dimensions of her new theory. She will demonstrate the field’s scope for deepening the curiosity and social awareness of high school students, rather than just pushing and evaluating them. This line of thinking goes against the assumption that abstract mathematics can only be taught to high-level undergraduates and graduate students as well as against the accusation that abstract mathematics is removed from real life. No prior mathematical knowledge will be needed.

Further instructions and access to join the webinar will be sent to all registrants upon sign up.

About the Speaker

Cheng is scientist-in-residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She won tenure in pure mathematics at the University of Sheffield in England.  She was an early pioneer of math on YouTube, and her videos have been viewed over 15 million times. She is the author of popular math books “How to Bake Pi,” “Beyond Infinity,” “The Art of Logic” and “x+y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender.”  Cheng is also a concert pianist and artist.

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