I could hardly contain myself.
While checking out a few articles that I thought might provide fodder for discussion, I ran across one that simply drew me in – deeper and deeper, into a dark place, into the “thinking” process of a black woman who calls herself a mathematician.
I expected a deep and serious thinker, one who had conquered the complex and difficult art/science of mathematics. Instead, what I found was a racist and misogynistic person who was disturbed that her version of mathematics wasn’t given the same credibility as the historically established discipline.
Piper Harron, an assistant professor of mathematics at the public University of Hawaii, is demanding that “white cis men” resign from their faculty positions, claiming that “actual solutions require women of color and trans people.”
It also might surprise you to know that Harron argues that anyone who disagrees with her belief that white men should be pushed out of their positions of influence is sexist, racist, or transphobic.
“Women of color and trans people” are the only ones who can provide “actual solutions” to some esoteric unidentified mathematical problem(s). Have you ever heard anything so arrogant, conceited – and racist?
She is a temporary Assistant Professor – about the lowest rung on the academic ladder. Yet, she presumes to lecture the academic community on how the entire mathematics discipline (especially education) is flawed because it is primarily populated by white men who identify as men instead of composed of mostly black women (trans or otherwise) as she believes it should be.
On what does she base this opinion?
What evidence is there that black women and/or transgendered individuals are more proficient at solving mathematical problems than “white CIS men”?
Of course, that’s a rhetorical question; the number of black women mathematicians must be small and the population of transgendered mathematicians even smaller.
For your information, there are 35,800 members of four main U.S. mathematics professional societies. By definition, a mathematician is a person who holds Ph.D. in mathematics.
There is an Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Mathematicians, but I could find no count of members – can’t be very large.
One would think that if black women and/or transgender mathematicians were truly the cream of the crop in the discipline, they’d be in high demand and would have received honors and accolades for their contributions to the science.
Where are they? You can dig for yourself, I couldn’t find any. I should mention that she includes in her curriculum vitae (CV) a section called: Denied Awards and Recognition, wherein she lists “Surviving white supremacy is its own reward” among two other non-awards.
Apparently, Ms. Harron is convinced that otherwise highly capable people (who are not white CIS men) are prevented from having their just impact on the science, simply because they aren’t white CIS men. She apparently doesn’t even consider that the numbers of candidates for mathematician positions in general (can’t be a large number) would automatically preclude many from being hired, regardless of their gender or gender confusion.
She gives us some impression of her philosophy in a quote in her CV, where she posits: “If at first you don’t succeed, throw the rules out and try again,” which implies that she doesn’t necessarily believe in following the rules. You can add that to her list of “qualifications.” You know how employers just love that trait.
She also notes that during her time at New York University and at Princeton, she: “survived external and internalized misogyny and racism.” She also survived a “pervasive and internalized cult of genius mythology,” whatever that means.
And to add insult to injury, she recounts two more “achievements” in her CV:
“Real Life, Single Lady of Arts in Oppression,” wherein she “grew human in own body, gave birth to new human with own body, created milk with own body to sustain new human, and survived pregnancy, labor, and infant care related misogyny.”
And, “Real Life, Mistress of Arts in Self-Liberation,” where she: “grew, birthed, and created milk for new human with own body and survived thesis writing while being a stay-at-home parent.”
Wow, some achievements. With the exception of writing a thesis, almost 4 million other mothers did the same thing in the U.S. alone (in 2014), yet she includes that in her CV – wow, just wow.
A final quote from the Prologue section of her CV, she complains, “but what about the others like me, who don’t do math the “right way” but could still greatly contribute to the community?”
What’s that? She doesn’t do math “the right way“? And just how is “her way” supposed to be superior to “the right way“? In her world, does 2 + 2 still equal 4? I wouldn’t bet on it.
I know one thing. If she tries to get a job in the real world (outside of liberal academia), she’ll no doubt blame her failure as being attributable to racism and/or misogyny.
Maybe she’d contribute more to her community as a community organizer instead of as a mathematician?