The Isaac Newton Institute has a collection of short interviews with female mathematicians who have visited the Institute. It is described as

an occasional series of interviews with female mathematical scientists. In this series we hope to showcase the achievements of inspirational women from all kinds of backgrounds and at all stages of their mathematical sciences careers. In addition, the Institute hopes that the Six questions with … series will help female mathematical scientists to share their experiences and will also encourage women to persist and excel at mathematical sciences research.

They make very interesting reading. Most encouragingly, they show (as I am not surprised to find) that female mathematicians are as diverse as mathematicians are, both in their approach to their subject and in their advice to young women starting their careers. Moreover, some value the opportunities for networking provided by organisations like European Women in Mathematics, whereas others feel that such a label is not in the long-term interest of female mathematicians.

Here is a selection of very brief excepts on “what keeps your interest fresh?” I don’t believe any mathematician could fail to be uplifted by reading these.

- “There are always new things to learn and discover.”
- “In every step of my mathematical life I discover beautiful things.”
- “I stay interested in maths by being interested in an wide range of real world problems.”
- “I participate in events and conferences on various mathematical themes that are not limited to my teaching area.”
- “The beauty of stochastic processes and its multiple calculi completely seduced me, and it still does.”
- “As I get older I see more and more questions left open by my work and the work of others.”
- “My research interests are fuelled by contacts and interactions with other statisticians in my field.”
- “I never felt my interest fading out – I always have some mathematics book on my bedside!”
- “If you solve one problem in mathematics it is like opening a door, behind which you find another unsolved problem (or more than one) already waiting for you.”
- “Maybe it is pertinent that so many of my friends are mathematicians … I talk maths to my friends. If I am stuck myself, my brain can be fired again by their enthusiasm in explaining their own work to me.”

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About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.