发布者: 顾含爱学习 | 发布时间: 2022-1-5 15:22| 查看数: 1396| 评论数: 0|




Six hundred of the cleverest people in the world are sitting in a tent in Bath, in the west of England, listening to a man standing at a wooden lectern who is extolling their achievements.

He announces that there is a Fields medallist among them. Eager eyes try to spot the recipient of the world’s most prestigious prize in mathematics.

例句:I felt glad that I was now a giver of pleasure, not merely a passive recipient. 我很高兴,现在我是一个快乐的给予者,而不只是被动的接受者。

This is the closing ceremony of the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad, the annual world championship maths competition for secondary school-age students. It is late July, and 621 teenagers representing 112 countries are waiting for medals to be distributed. They have spent days working on mathematical problems that many university professors would fail to solve.
这是第60届国际数学奥林匹克竞赛(International Mathematical Olympiad,以下简称“国际数学奥赛”)的闭幕式,这场世界数学竞赛每年举办一次,参赛者为中学年龄段学生。时值7月末,代表112个国家的621名青少年正等待奖牌颁发。他们已经花费数天时间解决数学问题,这些问题连许多大学教授也无法解出。

The man at the lectern, a mathematician and the president of the governing body of the Olympiad, gets to his punchline. There is a Fields medallist sitting in this room, “he just doesn’t know it yet”.

Statistically Geoff Smith is right. Half of all Fields medallists are also IMO winners who have sat through similar ceremonies. Such is the calibre of this audience that its 52 new IMO gold medallists among them are 50 times more likely to go on to win the Fields Medal —“the Nobel for mathematics” — than someone with a PhD in mathematics from the University of Cambridge.
从统计学看,杰夫•史密斯(Geoff Smith)是对的。菲尔兹奖得主有一半都是曾参加类似仪式的国际数学奥赛获奖者。这就是在座观众的水准,他们之中的52名新晋奥赛金牌得主获得菲尔兹奖——“数学界的诺贝尔奖”——的可能性是剑桥大学(University of Cambridge)数学系博士的50倍。

And though he will correct himself a few minutes later, Prof Smith is also right, at least statistically speaking, to use the masculine pronoun when he says, “he just doesn’t know it yet”. Of the 61 Fields medals awarded since 1936, only one has gone to a woman. Maryam Mirzakhani received hers in 2014 after winning gold for Iran at the IMOs of 1994 and 1995. She died two years ago.
虽然史密斯教授在几分钟之后纠正了自己,但他说“只不过他现在还不知道”时用了男性的“他”也是对的,至少从统计上看是如此。自1936年以来,61名菲尔兹奖得主中只有1名是女性。2014年菲尔兹奖获得者是玛丽安•米尔札哈尼(Maryam Mirzakhani),她曾在1994年和1995年代表伊朗获得国际数学奥赛金牌。她于两年前去世。

Looking across the audience, there are almost no girls in Prof Smith’s sightline. At the back is the UAE team of six girls and somewhere in the front sits 17-year-old Jelena Ivancic of Serbia, the only girl to score high enough on the problems that make up the competition to win a gold medal at the games.
向观众席望去,史密斯教授的视线中几乎没有女孩。后排坐着阿联酋队的6名女孩,前排某个角落坐着塞尔维亚17岁的耶莱娜•伊万契奇(Jelena Ivancic),她是唯一一名在竞赛中答题得分高到足以赢得金牌的女孩。

Most countries, particularly those in the top ranks, have a rigorous gender-blind national competition programme to pick the six members of their IMO team. Of the top 25 ranking nations at this year’s competition, 148 team members were boys and two were girls.

The divide at the top of mathematics is so stark that it is difficult to think of a comparable gender-blind data set that is global and spans 60 years.

Almost no one, from neuroscientists and geneticists to educationalists and mathematicians, suggests the reason for this discrepancy is down to inherent differences in ability between the sexes. If that is correct, it means that all across the world, girls are being put off maths.

That matters, not only because the top minds go on to win Fields medals and advance the field of mathematics, but because they also go on to work in computer science and write the algorithms that will define our future in an artificial intelligence-driven world.

Top mathematicians also follow careers in finance that will determine the stability of economies and they move into medicine and science to work on the world’s most pressing problems. When women are not present, biases are baked into systems. This is especially potent in AI.

Doug Gurr, head of Amazon UK, says mathematical skills will be important for almost all jobs in the future world of work. At Amazon, he says, “We see mathematical ability as essential to all our day-to-day work at all levels: from impact measurement to accounting, to machine learning, robotics and AI.”
英国亚马逊(Amazon UK)总裁葛道远(Doug Gurr)表示,数学技能对于未来的几乎所有工作都很重要。对于亚马逊,他表示:“我们认为数学能力在各层级的日常工作中都至关重要:从影响衡量到会计,到机器学习、机器人科学和人工智能。”

Numeracy is vital for everyone. But according to Alain Dehaze, chief executive of Adecco, the world’s biggest recruiting company, the most valuable mathematical skills in a more automated future, especially for those people who can also communicate them to generalists, are the ability to spot patterns; to problem solve logically; and to work with statistics, probability and large data sets to see into the future.
计算能力对于每个人来说都十分重要。但是,据世界最大的人才招聘企业德科(Adecco)的首席执行官阿兰•德海兹(Alain Dehaze)说,在更加自动化的未来,最有价值的数学技能——特别是对于那些能将数学技能传授给跨领域人才的人们——是发现模式的能力;运用逻辑解决问题的能力;利用统计学、概率和大数据预测未来的能力。

例句:The presidency is a job for a generalist. 总统的职位是一个多面手做的。

Po-Shen Loh, a maths professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and the coach of the US IMO team, believes that there is “absolutely no difference in ability” between girls and boys.
罗博深(Po-Shen Loh)是匹兹堡卡内基梅隆大学(Carnegie Mellon University)的数学教授,也是美国的奥数队教练,他认为女孩与男孩之间“绝对没有能力差别”。

“I think that the average girl hears from various sides, various angles through their life that girls are not as good in maths and science,” he says.

This is particularly potent in maths, where an answer is either right or wrong and everyone eventually runs into a problem they cannot solve. When one’s culture and a dearth of role models send out the message that girls are not as good at maths, it is a lot easier to give up and turn to other subjects and endeavours.

The US team has not sent a girl to the Olympiad in 12 years and some of its members worry that the gender gap in ability is widening. So far, attempts such as girls-only competitions and camps have made little difference in the statistics.

Dame Celia Hoyles, one of Britain’s best known maths educationalists, says that the fear of making mistakes is holding people back, especially girls. “We’d love to change this view. It’s really quite deeply ingrained and one generation is passing it on to another.”
英国最知名的数学教育家之一西莉亚•霍伊尔斯女爵(Dame Celia Hoyles)表示,对犯错的恐惧阻止了人们前进,尤其是女孩。“我们很愿意改变这种观念。它确实根深蒂固,代代相传。”

Educationalists call this fear “maths anxiety” and have tried for decades to tackle it.

Progress has been slow, but Dame Celia notes that there has been some improvement in the number of girls taking A level maths and choosing it at degree level. Efforts to make maths less gender biased have increased over the past decade. But cultural biases that start at birth, including expectations that undermine girls’ willingness to make mistakes, are harder to change, as is the way teenage girls approach learning.
虽然进展很缓慢,但是西莉亚女爵指出,中学选修A level数学、并在读大学学位时选择数学的女生数量已有提升。在过去十年中,降低数学领域性别差异的努力增多了。但是生来就存在的文化偏见——例如让女孩不愿犯错的期望——更难改变。女孩在青少年时期的学习方式也是如此。

When asked why she thinks there are so few girls studying maths Ms Ivancic, the Serbian IMO gold medallist, says: “I worked really hard and I worked alone when I was younger because I loved it . . . 

I don’t think they [girls] are not capable. Maybe they don’t try enough or think they are not good enough.”

Lisa Sauermann, the most decorated female IMO contestant ever, suggests that the attitude of parents and culture can have a profound effect, especially early in life. Ms Sauermann’s mother grew up in the former DDR (East Germany) where, culturally, she says it was normal for women to be scientists and mathematicians.
得奖最多的女性国际数学奥赛选手莉萨•绍尔曼(Lisa Sauermann)认为,父母和文化的态度会产生深刻的影响,特别在一个人的人生初期。绍尔曼的母亲成长于前民主德国(东德),她说,在那里的文化中,女性成为科学家和数学家是很正常的。

A study published last year by IZA Institute of Labor Economics concludes that European socialism has had lasting benefits on girls’ mathematical achievements.
德国IZA劳动经济研究所(IZA Institute of Labor Economics)去年发表的一项研究显示,前欧洲社会主义国家持续受益于女性的数学成就。

But the big rise has been that of Asia, in particularly China. Of the two winning teams, the US and China, all but one of the boys was of Asian descent. South and North Korea placed third and fourth respectively and of the top 15 nations all but the US are Asian or former socialist states, with only the Serbian and Polish teams including girls.

“This is not about particular ethnic groups having more capability. I think that’s bogus,” says Prof Loh, himself a child of Chinese parents. “If you want to have a very strong ability in something, it takes a lot of time and dedication. When one talks about the Chinese culture, this idea of focusing on studies has always been something that has been very pervasive.”

例句:One of the most pervasive and destructive mental tendencies in the society is that of focusing on what we want instead of what we have. 在社会上最普遍的、最具破坏性的心理倾向之一就是:我们关注自己想要得到的,并不是自己已经拥有的。

Prof Loh, who spends a significant amount of time trying to bring maths to the masses, notes there is a higher purpose to it than winning medals.

“Mathematics teaches you how to question, how to be very confident that you have pushed your logical conclusion through and then you actually believe in what you are doing. Then you have a world with discourse. And a world with discourse is one in which we as a society — I am talking about all 7bn of us — can get along much better.”

The author is the former recruitment editor of the FT and is founder of the non-profit organisation Maths Teams
本文作者是前英国《金融时报》职场编辑,也是非营利组织Maths Teams创始人


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