A New Year’s Resolution: Diversity

So do we. We are aware of, and unhappy about, the predominance of heterosexual, cisgendered white men in mathematics, and we want to play a part in addressing that.

Since starting the Special Guest Co-Host feature on Wrong, But Useful, we have had eleven SGCHs, of whom eight are women and three men. We had an informal target of having women as co-hosts at least two-thirds of the time, and we're happy to have managed that.

We make a point of reaching out to the women mathematicians on our Big List Of Potential Co-hosts1 first; all three of the male co-hosts stepped in after either a communications failure between me and Dave or a scheduling clash left us needing to make a general call for help at short notice.

So, good, pats on the back, haven't the straight white chaps done awfully well in making sure slightly less than a quarter of the podcast is filled with female voices?

Well, no. While we've made a small, imperfect start towards a more diverse podcast, there are many areas where we can improve. The three key ones:

  • We haven't yet made a point of reaching out to mathematicians of colour. We plan to do better.

  • We haven't yet made a point of reaching out to mathematicians with disabilities (although some of our co-hosts may fit that description). We plan to do better.

  • We haven't yet made a point of reaching out to LGBTQ+2 mathematicians (although, again, some of our co-hosts may fit that description). We plan to do better.

We're also aware that we have a bias towards academic and educational mathematicians, and to British and American mathematicians3. We are keen to do better there, also.

So, our new year's resolution for Wrong, But Useful, is to continue to work at making sure the voices you hear in the podcast demonstrate that maths is for everyone. We would value and appreciate your help in pointing us towards more diverse voices.

* We are grateful to @samuel_hansen for tactfully pointing out that WBU was less diverse than it could be. It shouldn't have needed pointing out.
* [Edit 2018-01-01] Thanks also to @ajk_44 for help with language and clarity.
* We welcome discussion about our approach to diversity. We are aware that we are often clumsy in our support of equality and inclusion, and we want to get it right; we appreciate your thoughts about how we can do better.


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.

  1. There are still many we hope to hear from this year; we also welcome volunteers and suggestions. []
  2. We're aware that several extensions of this abbreviation are in currency; please understand our use of it to mean 'all are welcome' []
  3. This does reflect our listenership figures, but there's an obvious chicken-and-egg problem there. []


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