Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Presidential Praise for Iranian Math Prize Winner (with and without Head Scarf)

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Presidential Praise for Iranian Math Prize Winner (with and without Head Scarf)

Article excerpt

Maryam Mirzakhani has become the first woman - and the first Iranian - to win the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics. And South Korea's first female president had the honor of handing out the prize.

Ms. Mirzakhani was awarded the prize for her "contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces," which examine the symmetry of curved surfaces. Her work is primarily theoretical, but may have implications for physics and quantum field theory.

"This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani said in a statement released by Stanford University, where she is a professor. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

Mirzakhani was born and raised in Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted congratulations today to Mirzakhani using two photos - one showing her with a head scarf and one without.

Congrats to #MaryamMirzakhani on becoming the first ever woman to win the #FieldsMedal, making us Iranians very proud oVL98NRdVF-- Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) August 13, 2014

Inside Iran, the news was widely reported on blogs and official and private news websites with pride. News reports by state affiliated agencies provided detailed biographies for Mirzakhani, referring to her as a "prominent mathematician." The semi-official Mehr News Agency called the award the "Nobel Prize" for mathematics. Iran's Press TV ran a segment on Mirzakhani labeling her a "Genius Iranian."

The website for Iran's state IRIB broadcaster and the official IRNA state news agency website both featured Mirzakhani's photo prominently on their main page, and reported Mr. Rouhani's congratulatory message in full.

"Today, all Iranians can be proud that the first woman to win the Fields award is their compatriot," Rouhani said. "All Iranians throughout the world are national assets for this country, and as the representative of the Iranian people, I pay my respects to your scientific endeavors. I hope your life is filled with happiness and success."

When Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 - another first for Iran - for promoting the rights of women and children, the reception at home was very different. …

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