Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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Support for Women in Mathematics

MSRI provides a number of services to support researchers who identify as women in the mathematical sciences.

  • Family Services: Schooling and child care assistance, and family-friendly events for mathematicians who are members of each semester's scientific programs and/or workshops.
  • Family Support Grants for Child Care: MSRI has access to private sources of funding that makes it possible for researchers who both identify as women and have children to fully participate in its scientific activities, intended to offset the cost of child care and enable these parents to focus more easily on research while at MSRI.
  • Complementary Program: For mathematicians who are the partners/spouses of MSRI program members.
  • Nursery: Private room on site for parents to nurse or feed infants.
  • Connections Workshops: Workshops which provide an enhanced opportunity for early-career researchers, especially women, gender-expansive individuals, and minorities, to connect with potential senior mentors with similar research interests and to showcase their own research.
  • Summer Graduate Schools: Additional support for women nominated for MSRI's Summer Graduate Schools.
  • Marie A. Vitulli Graduate Fellowship for Women Graduate Students: Support for one advanced graduate student in mathematics, per academic year, to attend an MSRI Program with her advisor.
  • MSRI Advisory Committees: Rotating committees tasked to ensure equitable representation and build community among women and underrepresented minorities in MSRI's research programs and workshops.
  • Summer Research in Mathematics: Support for small groups of mathematicians, especially women and gender-expansive individuals, to work on a research project at MSRI.
  • Noetherian Ring: A member-run organization of gender-minority graduate students, postdocs, professors, and staff in the Mathematics Department of the University of California at Berkeley.

Family Services

MSRI strives to maintain a diverse community of mathematicians in its programs by actively assisting mathematicians with partners/spouses and children. The Institute has a dedicated Family Services Consultant, Sanjani Varkey, on staff who assists mathematicians in finding schools and childcare in Berkeley. Between Fall 2014 and Spring 2018, MSRI's Family Services coordinator assisted 169 members with securing childcare services and school enrollment for over 200 children. Learn more: Family Services →

The Institute hosts occasional family-friendly gatherings for scientific program participants with children, including potluck dinners for mathematicians with children to meet each other, and outings to local parks and family-friendly venues.

Thanks to the generous support of private funders, the Institute is now able to provide Family Support to participants who both identify as women and have children under age 18. The funds are intended to offset the cost of child care to enable participants to focus more easily on research during their residencies at MSRI.

Recipients may use these grants for child care expenses from local resources in Berkeley, or for any other form of child care (such as hiring a nanny at home, bringing a caregiver with them to Berkeley, etc.) in order to give recipients the freedom to use these funds in the way that is most useful to their family. Please note that because these funds are taxable, they are available only to US Citizens and Permanent Residents, and foreign visitors with a visa status that allows for compensation, such as a J1).

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Complementary Program

The Institute gives special consideration to applicants of the Complementary Program who are partners/spouses of an invited member of a Core Program. MSRI’s Complementary Program is for mathematicians whose interests are not closely related to its Core Programs. Interested partners (spouses) should include their partner (spouse’s) name in their cover letter.

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MSRI is pleased to be able to offer a private room for parents to nurse or feed infants. For information and access, contact Chris Marshall, MSRI Program Manager.

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Connections Workshops

Every semester-long research program at MSRI starts with this 2-day workshop (immediately preceding the weeklong Introductory Workshop). Connections Workshops have a long, successful history of encouraging early-career women and gender-expansive individuals in the profession.These workshops have three overarching goals: (1) to give accessible introductions to the main themes of the program and exciting new directions in related research; (2) to provide participants the opportunity to become acquainted with the work of women in the field; and (3) to connect early-career researchers, especially women, gender-expansive individuals, and minorities, to potential senior mentors. A typical workshop consists of introductory lectures, presentations by post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, and a panel discussion addressing the challenges faced by all young researchers, but especially by women, in establishing a career in mathematics.

Throughout the workshops, special effort is made to foster mentoring relationships between established and early-career researchers at the lunches, dinners, and coffee breaks. Participants of the Connections Workshop are encouraged to stay for the following week for the Introductory Workshop to the semester’s program. The workshop organizers are also encouraged to propose week-end activities for small groups of women with similar research interests to discuss problems and perhaps to begin work on a joint research project (e.g. forming small research or study groups that would work on predetermined problems, read a paper, or leanr new techniques). As is the case for all MSRI workshops, registration to attend Connections workshop lectures is open to all interested persons.

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Summer Graduate Schools

Every summer MSRI organizes several summer graduate schools (usually two weeks each), most of which are held at MSRI. Attending one of these schools can be a very motivating and exciting experience for a student; participants have often said that it was the first experience where they felt like real mathematicians, interacting with other students and mathematicians in their field. Graduate students from MSRI Academic Sponsoring Institutions or from Department of Mathematics at U.S. Universities are eligible for nomination.

Additional support is provided to those Academic Sponsoring Institutions that nominate women students to attend. For full-level academic sponsors, MSRI provides support for two students per summer; a third student will be supported if at least one nominee is a women or is a U.S. citizen/Permanent Resident from a group that is underrepresented in the mathematical sciences (URM). MSRI will support four students from a full-level academic sponsor if at least one nominee is a woman and at least one other nominee qualifies as URM.

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Marie A. Vitulli Graduate Fellowship for Women Graduate Students

Beginning in academic year 2020-21, the Marie A. Vitulli Graduate Fellowship for Women Graduate Students will support one advanced graduate student in mathematics, per academic year, to attend an MSRI program with her advisor.

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MSRI Advisory Committees

The Institute engages in a number of efforts to increase participation of women in MSRI activities. All Institute programs and workshops have women mathematicians on the organizing committees, and women participate in all levels of scientific membership, from graduate students to Research Professors and program organizers.

The Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC) is a rotating group of ten mathematicians (50% women / 50% underrepresented minorities in the mathematical sciences) which augments the Scientific Advisory Committee's care for human resources issues. HRAC members help to recruit participants from under-represented groups and develop new MSRI activities to promote these groups' involvement in the mathematical sciences. In addition, it advises on selection of special programs aimed at under-represented groups (such as the Blackwell-Tapia Prize and Conference) and aids MSRI in the evaluation of its programs and diversity efforts. Learn more: HRAC members →

The Committee on Women in Mathematics is a rotating group of six mathematicians (66% women) who work collaboratively with the Directorate to create annual plans for activities to increase the participation of women in MSRI’s major programs and associated fundraising for such initiatives. Members also interface with the Institute's academic sponsors on projects that could be undertaken at many universities with the goal of increasing the participation of women in mathematics, and periodically review MSRI's existing program for women.

The committee's recommendations led to the creation of the Summer Research for Women in Mathematics program; increased funding for family support for women mathematicians; and two named postdoctoral fellowships (honoring mathematicians Dusa McDuff and Karen Uhlenbeck). Learn more: CWM members →

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Summer Research in Mathematics Program

The Summer Research in Mathematics Program provides space, funding, and the opportunity for in-person collaboration to small groups of mathematicians, especially women and gender-expansive individuals, whose ongoing research may have been disproportionately affected by various obstacles including family obligations, professional isolation, or access to funding. Through this effort, MSRI aims to mitigate the obstacles faced by these groups, improve the odds of research project completion, and deepen their research experience. The ultimate goal of this program is to enhance the mathematical sciences as a whole by positively affecting the research and careers of all of its participants and assisting their efforts to maintain involvement in the research community.

Groups of two to six mathematicians with partial results on an established project may submit an application to the program. Each member of the group must have a Ph.D. in mathematics or advanced graduate standing. Each group may apply to be in residence at MSRI for a minimum of 2 weeks, although longer visits are possible.

In exit surveys, participants have remarked on the benefits of distraction-free, in-person collaboration; the value of candid discussions among peers regarding family and work/life balance; and their unexpected sense of relief and comfort in sharing partial or incomplete ideas and asking questions in a women-focused environment.

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Noetherian Ring (at UC Berkeley)

The Noetherian Ring at UC Berkeley invites you to participate in their community of gender minorities in math during your stay at MSRI. The group has weekly teas, discussions on special topics, and other informal meetings and events.

If you would like to be added to the email announcement list, please inform Chris Marshall at MSRI. Individuals often co-organize one-off events, so if you have a specific idea, you can contact nring@math.berkeley.edu to discuss how to make it happen.

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