Lancaster University

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The lady with the lamp lights up maths and stats

03/20/2013 00:00:00

​Florence Nightingale, best remembered for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War, will help shed new light on mathematics and statistics.

This amazing woman had an immense love of both subjects and was a pioneer in statistics, especially in the use of visualisation of statistical data.

And now she has been chosen as the icon for Lancaster University’s continuing efforts to promote mathematics and statistics, particularly the participation of young women in those subjects.

The ‘Florence Nightingale Day’ on April 17th is aimed especially at girls in year 12 at schools in the Morecambe Bay and Preston areas but it is also open to boys.

The event is the brainchild of Dr Nadia Mazza (pictured right), of Lancaster University Mathematics Department.

The free day of activity, at Lancaster University Management School, will feature talks by inspirational and prominent female mathematicians.

Speakers at the morning session will include Professor June Barrow-Green from the Open University and pure mathematics researcher Professor Reidun Twarock, from the University of York.

Opening the afternoon session will be first generation female mathematician Professor Dona Strauss from the University of Leeds.

Then Beth Penrose (University of Nottingham), Fiona Murray (Principal Integrity Engineer – TA Pipelines and Structures at Centrica) and Suduph Imran (a former mathematics teacher at Our Lady’s Catholic College in Lancaster who is studying for her Masters in Education) will speak about their jobs and how they use mathematics every day. Beth, Fiona and Suduph are ambassadors from STEMfirst, an organisation which promotes opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The last speaker will be Dr Marianne Freiberger, the editor of the mathematics magazine ‘Plus’, who promises a very active, fun session.

Displays featuring opportunities offered to women by a degree in mathematics or statistics, will stimulate informal discussion between pupils and mathematicians The day will also include a hands-on mathematics contest when attendees will spend time solving tricky problems in small groups under the supervision of coaches, all PhD students from Lancaster University's Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

The event, which offers 70 places, has been funded by the Faculty of Science and Technology Outreach Grant and the London Mathematical Society.

“Everyone talks about getting more women into mathematics but I wanted to do something to actively encourage it,” said Dr Mazza, who is a mathematics graduate from Lausanne University. “Year 12 is a critical stage when students make crucial decisions affecting their future career plans. We want to show how appealing it can be to do maths.”

For more information and to book places please contact Nadia Mazza at or James Groves at