Each semester, the BMS designates one of the BMS Friday Colloquia as the Sonia Kovalevskaya Colloquium. This lecture, named after the pioneering Russian mathematician, features female mathematicians, both senior and junior, who are regarded as successful role models. The BMS Kovalevskaya Lunch takes place prior to the main lecture and is an event held exclusively for women at the BMS.

On 2 June 2017, the 20th BMS Kovalevskaya Lunch took place with Prof. Sujatha Ramdorai as the twentieth special guest invited to share her experience as a woman mathematician with twenty participants from the BMS. In celebration of this milestone, everyone in attendance was given a small gift from the BMS in the form of a USB stick. 

Sujatha Ramdorai is an algebraic number theorist and, over lunch at the Urania Berlin, she shared the story of her desire to study mathematics and outlined her career success to date, which includes being a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India for a period of five years. Sujatha is currently a professor of mathematics at the University of British Columbia in Canada. 

The BMS Kovalevskaya Lunch, held once a semester since 2007, aims to give female students the opportunity to talk to an outstanding female mathematician and to exchange experiences as women in the field of mathematics. At this informal event, students have the chance to discuss the issues that directly impact female mathematicians and their careers, such as job opportunities, parenthood and work-life balance. Phase I student Yingying, who took part in the Kovalevskaya Lunch for the first time, said that the meeting with Sujatha gave her more motivation to continue doing mathematics and to contribute to the support of women in this field. She added that she was grateful to have been given the chance to meet Sujatha in person. 

Previous Sonia Kovalevskaya Colloquium guest speakers can be found on this page of our website.

The BMS is committed to providing an outstanding environment where women are able to thrive in mathematics. In 2016, the BMS student body was over 30% female, but the goal of the BMS is to achieve a 50% representation of women among its students. As well as the Kovalevskaya Lunch event, the BMS strives to provide positive role models for women via the BMS faculty and postdoc faculty members, BMS mentors, board members, guest speakers and visitors too. In addition, the BMS awards the Hilda Geiringer Scholarship to outstanding female PhD students in recognition of their achievements to date and to support their future mathematical research endeavours. Hilda Geiringer’s daughter, Magda Tisza, validated the efforts of the BMS in fostering women mathematicians with her comment: "The stellar record of some of your scholarship selections is impressive."

Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini