Help A Female Mathematician Inspire Girls To Pursue a Career in Maths

By Patricia Menéndez

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Who is Patricia Menéndez?


Personal Life

I was born in Gijón, Spain and raised in the small towns of Arrabal de Portillo and Castronuño in Valladolid. I moved to Australia just a year shy of a decade ago as a researcher with UNSW.

I completed my undergraduate and masters studies in mathematics specializing in statistics at the University of Valladolid, Spain. Before my PhD from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, I was a MEXT fellow in Japan. Currently, I am a statistician at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville and also serving on the board of the scientific advisory committee in Australian Resesearch Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers. From July onwards, I will take on a position as a lecturer at the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.


Maths ♥ Me

We didn’t fall in love at first sight… My love for Maths really started the year before I went to the university. I still remember feeling overwhelmingly fascinated in a class by the beauty of theorems and mathematical proofs together with the neatness of logical thinking. Against all odds, I decided to study mathematics and I have never looked back since then. The diversity and the number of incredible opportunities that this career has given me is simply wonderful!


Experiences As A Mathematician/Statistician


Past Work

I have had opportunities to work internationally with inspiring people, live in many different countries across continents and thus learn from a great variety of cultures. Just to mention some of the many amazing projects that I have had the privilege to work in:

  • Developing statistical methods to understand changes in the past climate looking at fossil pollens from sediment cores and temperature proxies from ice cores.


  • Looking at the Giant Triton as a natural means to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the deadly Crown of Thorns starfish.


  • Evaluation of policies and programs that aim at reducing crime and violence.

What Do Maths & Stats Have To Offer As A Career?

  • Incredible opportunities to work in a vast range of truly interesting projects and jobs.

  • Ability to work nationally and internationally. Ample job opportunities in these fields (especially in mathematics and statistics ;-)!).

  • Ability to develop essential transferable skills, which are in high demand across different areas. This includes critical thinking, problem solving skills and understanding complex ideas.

What Are The Problems Now?


  • Mathematics is seen as a killer subject which has a high drop-out list especially among female students in school.

  • Female students are considerably less likely to pursue a career in STEMM than males. This leads to an unbalanced workforce with restricted diversity.

  • We lack women role models and visible female leaders in mathematics and statistics and STEMM in general.

Please remember that in many of the forums, where policy and decision-making take place each day, females are still a minority.

"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens"- Michele Obama


Personally

Inspirational female role models are something that I have been searching for throughout my entire career. This has definitely being something missing. I find myself very lucky to have had wonderful mentors but unfortunately not many of them have been females in the field of mathematics and statistics. While I have now become a mentor myself, I further realised how few female role models we have.


The Facts

Climate Change: Firsthand Encounter



A particularly good example of decision-making and the importance of sound decisions is the climate change issue.

Personally, I have had the "opportunity" to have a traumatic firsthand encounter with the effects of climate change by directly living through a disastrous climatic event. Recently in Towsville, we have had one of the worst floods in history, which has taken its toll not only on the personal lives of people but also caused tremendous financial damages at all levels. We have been displaced from our homes, lost our cars, and more devastatingly, like many others we had to leave all our belongings behind and be evacuated by swift water rescue crews.



  • Climate change is not an abstract concept, it is a reality and some of us unfourtunately have experienced it firsthand.

  • Our time to act is short, it's now or never.

  • The effects of climate change are affecting our lives and the way our resources are spent.

  • Have you ever thought that the change in climate conditions will affect your house, car, and health insurance among many other things?





We all need to take action and take the responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our future generations. We need innovative ideas together with diverse and inclusive workforces to decide on actions to slow down and ultimately stop human-driven climate change. In the mean time, we also need measures to mitigate its catastrophic effects.


Overall, We Need Inspirational Leaders


I want to tell my story and share my journey to inspire females to pursue careers in STEMM and in particular in mathematics and statistics. Our voices need to be heard at all levels of policy and decision-making, especially those concerning the future of our planet and the care of our environment.


Homeward Bound In Practice


Homeward Bound is a groundbreaking leadership program for women with a background in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). The program was founded by Australian leadership expert Fabian Dattner in 2015 and it is currently training its fourth cohort towards achieving its 10-year goal of equipping a 1000-strong global collaboration of women to proactively lead, influence, and contribute to policy and decision-making to better shape the future of our planet.


During about 12 months, the program includes:

  • Monthly online meetings, during which coaching and direction are provided.

  • Team projects on global issues of concern for women.

  • Visibility awarness and exercises (individually and in groups).

  • Learning and enhancing the understanding of what it takes to genuinely collaborate.

  • Understanding sense of self.

  • Building visibility and science communication skills.

  • Work on personal strategy mapping, purpose, and values.

  • Peer coaching and collaboration.

The program culminates in a voyage to Antarctica, focusing on leadership in practise, where the participants will complete their personal strategy maps, work towards building their visibility skills in practise and learn about the art of science communication. Participants will also be part of a "Think tank" and a Science Symposium at sea.

The focus of the voyage is to join forces together with the other participants and faculty members to develop a world class leadership capability and strong network where participants would be ready to lead, mentor others, and contribute to the decisions that affects our planet.


Aside from my full time job, I spend about 20 hours a month on average working on the program. This requires dedicated effort and active participation, which reflect my determination to make a difference and contribute towards a better future for all.


Transformation : Antarctica


The Antarctic region is one of the fastest warming places on Earth. The magnitude and timing of the environmental changes in Antarctica effected by climate change are so profound and dramatic that it can be observed firsthand in real time. Previous Homeward Bound participants share the same opinion that witnessing the effects of climate change is an extremely overwhelming experience that will transform you forever.


Why me?


  • My international training and working experiences in different academic environments and different industries (Spain, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Australia), place me in a very unique position to bring a wealth of knowledge to inspire young females, who may be considering work in the field of mathematics, statistics, data science or STEMM in general.

  • My commitment and dedication to help females who are lacking role models in STEMM (especially in the areas of mathematics and statistics) - as we are all in need of courage and support to follow our dreams. In this case, one plus one is more than two, we are better together!

  • My motivation to raise awareness about the effects of climate change and use my skills and firsthand experience to show the facts. Climate change is affecting our lives now and it is only going to get worse if nothing is done.

My Commitment


The Homeward Bound overarching purpose in which I truly believe is: "Leading for the greater good; managing the planet as our home".

Once I have completed the program, my intentions are working towards the greater good by:

  • Contributing to the development of upcoming female future champions in mathematics, statistics, and STEMM in general.

  • Championing school programs aimed at demonstrating how interesting and diverse a career in mathematics can be.

  • Sharing my firsthand experiences about climate change both in Queensland and Antarctica.

  • Paying special attention to rural areas, where young females are far away from bigger hubs.

  • Supporting other females in participating in Homeward Bound program and in other STEMM programs for female champions.

  • Engaging relevant organisations to champion the advancement of gender equality and professional growth for females in mathematics and statistics.

How can you help me?


A talented team of international experts in leadership, science, strategy, and visibility will deliver the pre-voyage and on-board programs. They are donating their time and expertise to the program.

The total value of the program, including the time and in-kind support from the leadership and sponsors approximates USD 31,000 per participant. Each participant is expected to contribute USD 17,000 (AUD 24,500) for the rest of the program cost in addition to travel expenses, Antarctic clothing, accomodation, insurances, etc.

  • Program costs including ship USD 17,000

  • Antarctic clothing approximately AUD 800-1,000

  • Travel to and from Ushuaia approximately AUD 2,000

  • Transfers between airports and hotels approximately AUD 200-300

Support

I am raising funds to help partially pay for the program, transportation, clothing, and insurance. It is very much appreciated if you could help me with your generous financial support for this transformational leadership program to raise AUD 15,000. The Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics and ACEMS node of Monash University have pledged to also support me and I will be funding the remaining costs myself!





Please donate directly via this webpage. You can also help me by sharing this campaign on social media and with your networks. Your help is extremely valuable and crucial for this project and I cannot thank you enough.









Ideas & Suggestions

Any ideas and suggestions about the campaigning and/or the outreach of my initiative are most welcome. If you would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact me at:

[email protected]

Happy to talk with the media too.


Your contribution is invaluable, many thanks


Dr Patricia Menéndez

Please follow me on Twitter @PM_maths and my webpage.


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Patricia Menéndez

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