Policy Statements

This page contains Policy Statements which are in line with AWM’s Mission: to create a community in which women and girls can thrive in their mathematical endeavors, and to promote equitable opportunity and treatment of women and others of marginalized genders and gender identities across the mathematical sciences.

These statements are general and not in response to particular legislation or events — for those, see Endorsements and Responses.

Any member of the AWM may bring an endorsement, sponsorship, or policy statement request to the AWM by emailing emailing  awm@awmmath.org with the subject line [Policy & Advocacy Request].

The AWM has endorsed the following CBMS Statement (12/3/21).

Brief Abstract: The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) promotes understanding and cooperation among national organizations in the mathematical and statistical sciences and their allied disciplines. As such, we envision a mathematical sciences professional community that values all colleagues and students and in which we work and learn together with respect and dignity. We embrace a vision for this community that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive. We acknowledge our collective culpability in discrimination, bias, and other forms of injustice and we commit ourselves to action and accountability in service of our vision.

Full Statement: The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) is an umbrella organization composed of professional societies and organizations from all areas of the mathematical and statistical sciences and allied disciplines. CBMS’s stated purpose is to “promote understanding and cooperation among these national organizations so that they work together and support each other in their efforts to promote research, improve education, and expand the uses of mathematics.” (cbmsweb.org)

We envision a community of mathematical scientists where all of our colleagues and students are valued and in which we all work and learn together with respect and dignity.

We envision a world in which all individuals have equitable opportunities to learn, use, and contribute to the mathematical sciences, as well as to shape the future of the disciplines. Our vision is a landscape that reflects the diversity of our society – across race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and all other social identities – as learners, researchers, teachers, practitioners, leaders, and all other members of the professional community. Making progress toward this vision is a matter of justice. Quantitative literacy is imperative to civic engagement, and includes the ability to model complicated situations, understand options, and make informed decisions. By appreciating, respecting, and honoring the diversity of people and voices in our professions, we are better able, as mathematical scientists, to utilize the tools of our fields to investigate, document, and communicate injustice and create pathways to many opportunities. All people must have equitable access to those opportunities.

Equitable education in the mathematical sciences enhances the learning experience of all students. Participating in a diverse classroom engages students with others who have perspectives, skills, and experiences that may be different from their own, which is vital to developing the problem-solving and critical thinking skills needed in our world. This rich type of educational experience also provides fertile ground for the development of a deeper appreciation and understanding of mathematics that will inspire and prepare students to be future users and creators of the powerful tools and concepts of our disciplines. This commitment includes the preparation of teachers at every level – early childhood, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate – whose education will have a profound impact on future generations of students. Equitable opportunities and an inclusive environment increase the diversity of ideas within our disciplines, enriching what we create, know, and use. Mathematicians, statisticians, and those in related areas view and explore ideas and concepts from new perspectives, make connections never before realized, harness concepts and tools to address the problems of tomorrow, and advance knowledge in important ways. By broadening the diversity of those who participate, we increase the potential for richer understandings and further developments in the mathematical and statistical sciences.

The power, beauty, and opportunity inherent in engaging with mathematics is a distant goal for some; we envision a world in which individuals of all identities know and believe there is a place for them in the mathematical sciences, can see themselves in those spaces, and are key builders of its future.

We acknowledge our responsibility and culpability.

Our community currently falls far short of this equitable vision for a complex assortment of reasons, both historical and ongoing. Some of CBMS’s member organizations have actively participated in the exclusion of some groups – including people of different races, ethnicities, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and other social identities – and are currently grappling with those past actions. Some have participated in this injustice in more subtle ways through inequitable opportunities, including biased policies and processes for making awards and filling leadership positions; inadequate support for caregivers (especially for childcare); and otherwise tolerating or even enabling bias, disrespect, macro- and micro-aggressions, and inequity. In stark contrast, some of CBMS’s member organizations were created specifically to support the mathematical scientists impacted by these injustices.

We collectively acknowledge the need to examine past and present practices to identify injustices, and to implement policies and practices that redress these injustices, support equitable educational and professional opportunities, and create an inclusive and welcoming profession.

We acknowledge that the systemic nature of racism, misogyny, and other forms of discrimination requires each of our organizations to make significant investments of time, energy, and other resources to identify and change problematic policies and procedures.

We commit to action and accountability.

CBMS will create and employ policies and practices that model justice and equitable opportunities for all mathematical scientists. In turn, CBMS will support its member organizations in their work to create spaces that are just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive. Engaging in self-reflection and articulating our goals are essential first steps in making progress, but those steps must lead to action in order to be meaningful.

As a leader within the mathematical sciences communities, CBMS will make justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion fundamental to our mission of service, and commit ourselves to creating safe, humanizing, and fertile spaces for all mathematicians to flourish.

We will work together, as colleagues of different races, genders, and other social identities, to analyze and document practices and policies that disparately affect the access of some members of our community to participate fully in and benefit from the professional life of our member associations.

We pledge to collaborate across organizations, both within and beyond the mathematical sciences, to pursue policies and practices that lead to equity, diversity, and inclusion for all members of our community, and to commit resources to support those efforts.

To hold ourselves accountable, we will regularly share our progress with each other and the communities we represent. This will allow us to highlight and build on productive actions member organizations have taken and provide models for future progress.

As leaders in our disciplines, we recognize that this work is not a singular effort, but requires ongoing partnership as we iterate toward the just mathematical sciences community we envision. We pledge to continue to engage in dialogue with one another about systemic inequities and to collaborate on solutions.

Through this statement, we embrace our vision for an equitable, diverse, and inclusive professional community; acknowledge the mathematical sciences community’s culpability in racism, sexism, and other forms of unjust policies and behavior; and commit ourselves to action and accountability in service of that vision.

Healthy workplaces often require difficult and emotionally charged engagements.  As the mathematics community grows and transitions, AWM strives to be a place where such conversations can take place constructively. We acknowledge that each of us carries assumptions and personal histories that may lead to difficult interactions as we are confronted with them. We recognize that some of us are deeply affected by certain issues in our community, and may not wish to have discussions about them.

Principles of this Statement

  • Each member of our community is deserving of respect and dignity.

  • Each member of our community has the right to express their ideas and to disagree with another’s ideas.

Suggested Modes of Engagement

  • Be kind and gracious whenever possible.

  • Be open to new ideas and seek to build a shared understanding whenever possible.

  • Speak up to point out problematic ideas or behavior in a constructive manner.

  • Recognize that disagreement and conflict are a natural part of healthy discussion, and that we can approach difficult topics by focusing on ideas rather than individuals.

  • Carefully consider what mode of communication is most appropriate for a particular stage of the discussion.

  • Seek to avoid using public forums to intentionally vilify or embarrass a community member, as the meaning and tone in such discussions can easily become misinterpreted.

  • Work toward positive solutions that support the community as a whole.

The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) is firmly committed to fostering an inclusive environment that enables a diverse community to be involved in and contribute to AWM activities. The AWM believes that all people with an interest in mathematics should be supported and encouraged to participate in the profession. Any type of underrepresentation is a problem for the entire mathematical community: it inevitably leads to missed opportunities and the loss of mathematical talent. Thus, the AWM strongly endorses the National Science Foundation’s goal of “broadening participation” in order to “increase participation from underrepresented groups” in the mathematical sciences (See the NSF’s Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering for a description of these groups). It is AWM’s goal to celebrate, recognize and support a diverse mathematical community of individuals from across the spectrum of age, race, gender, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, religion and religious belief, marital status, parental status, body shape or size, sexual orientation, physical ability, socioeconomic status, employment status and other aspects of diversity.

In order to reach our goals of diversity and inclusion, we pledge to pursue the following guiding principles.

  1.  The AWM is committed to promoting equal opportunity and equal treatment of women, and more broadly, all underrepresented minorities in the mathematical sciences.
  2. The AWM is committed to creating, recognizing, publicizing, and advancing programs aimed at supporting and increasing the representation of women and girls in the mathematical sciences.
  3. The AWM is committed to actively encouraging the representation of underrepresented groups in all facets of the organization, including membership, awards, prizes, conference speakers, committee members, and leadership.
  4. The AWM is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment that is free of discrimination and harassment (see AWM’s Welcoming Environment Statement).
  5. The AWM is committed to providing a supportive community for all self- identified cis- or transgender women and, more generally, for non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals.

Acknowledgements: The diversity policies adopted by the American Meteorological Society, the Association for Women in Science, and ICERM were particularly helpful in the creation of this document.

It is the policy of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) that all participants in AWM activities will enjoy a welcoming environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As a professional organization, the AWM is committed to fostering an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In pursuit of that ideal, the AWM is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and treatment for all AWM members and participants in AWM-sponsored events, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, immigration status, disabilities, veteran status, or any other reason not related to scientific merit.

For more information and resources, please see the AWM’s Welcoming Environment page.

Activities:  Commitment to a Welcoming Environment

It is the policy of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) that all participants in AWM activities will enjoy a welcoming environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As a professional organization, the AWM is committed to fostering an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In pursuit of that ideal, the AWM is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity and treatment for all AWM members and participants in AWM-sponsored events, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, veteran status, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of AWM activities.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is strictly prohibited. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Fact Sheet on Sexual Harassment, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” A similar description applies to schools at all levels under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Professional meetings and conferences are considered to be an extension of work and school environments. Behavior or language that is welcome/acceptable to one person many be unwelcome/offensive to another. Consequently, individuals must use discretion to ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of authority since individuals with lower rank or status may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional comments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale, and therefore, interferes with work effectiveness. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; inappropriate invitations to or uninvited entrances to conference lodgings, verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unnecessary touching.

Other Types of Harassment

Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. This conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation of written or graphic material (for example, in conference talks or sessions) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.

Scope of Policy

This policy applies to all attendees at AWM activities, including mathematicians, students, guests, staff, contractors, and exhibitors, participating in the scientific sessions and social events of any AWM meeting or other activity.

Further Resources

Resources for dealing with sexual or other forms of harassment are available on the web site of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Acknowledgement: The policy adopted by the American Astronomical Society  was helpful in the creation of this document.

Statement on Sexual Harassment of the Association for Women in Mathematics
Sexual harassment occurs around the world, in and out of academe.  The mathematics community is not immune.
Sexual harassment can be demoralizing and destructive for the victim.  It has grave consequences for our profession, contributing to loss of talent and alienation of women and men from mathematical professions.
Sexual harassment can take many forms and its legal definition differs according to country.  The 2005 American Association of University Professors Legal Primer summarizes the legal situation for the US academic context.
EEOC guidelines note:  “It generally is necessary for employers to establish, publicize, and enforce anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures.”
The AWM endorses the principles that institutional and organizational policies should address sexual harassment and that policies on sexual harassment should be actively enforced.   AWM endorses the AAUP guidelines for academic institutions “Sexual Harassment: Suggested Policy and Procedure for Handling Complaints”
We support the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education Handbook (2004).
Washington, DC: Joint Committee on Testing Practices

The code elaborates on the fundamental principle that testers “have an obligation to provide and use tests that are fair to all test takers regardless of age, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, linguistic background, or other personal characteristics.”
We specifically note the large body of literature on bias in testing. Multiple studies show that calling attention to gender or ethnicity prior to a test results in a statistically significant decrease in test scores among individuals whose gender or ethnicity is stereotypically associated with lower performance in the subject area. Therefore we support not collecting, mentioning, or listing demographic information immediately prior to or during a test. Rather, such information should be collected or verified during a registration several days or perhaps weeks prior to testing; alternatively this collection and verification can be performed after the test has been completed. Information about test takers may bias graders as well, so we support precautionary measures.  Therefore when feasible, a grader should not be given any personal or demographic information regarding the test takers.

For further information:  Women in Math Project page on Publications: Fairness in Testing

To judge the relative merits of mathematicians is not an easy task. Whereas people of good will may differ on the substance of decisions concerning hiring, tenure and promotion, most would agree that such judgements are best made within the mathematics profession, rather than in courts of law. Unfortunately, situations arise where faculty feel that they have not been fairly treated and that inappropriate considerations have entered into the deliberations of their colleagues or of administrators. If an impasse has been reached, some institutions have found that a useful technique is to form an outside review committee consisting of those with expertise in the field of the faculty member who is challenging an adverse personnel decision. For example, two persons might be chosen by each side to the dispute, and those four might chose a fifth person. Although an outside committee can only make recommendations, with the institution retaining the authority to grant promotion and/or tenure, the advice of knowledgeable parties not directly involved may lead to a solution satisfactory to all.

AWM recommends that referral of a dispute to an outside review committee be considered as an alternative to resolution by the courts.

The above statement was approved by the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics in February 1992. [statement drafted by Mary Gray]

The above statement was reaffirmed by the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics in March 2011.

It is often critical to parents with young children that onsite childcare be made available at technical meetings, but there is little uniformity in the practice of providing childcare. A list of principles supported by the Association for Women in Mathematics follows.

Large society-sponsored national meetings:
Onsite childcare should be available for the children of participants, and a room should be provided for the use of nursing mothers. Information about these facilities should be prominently displayed along with other details of the conference.
Reasonable prices are necessary to make it feasible for parents to use these services; we applaud the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America for subsidizing costs at the annual Joint Mathematical Meetings and encourage other societies to do the same.

Small conferences:
At small meetings, it is not always possible to provide onsite childcare. The local organizers should be prepared to provide details of local childcare options for parents who need this service. The fact that child care information is available on request should be communicated to all potential conference participants well in advance of the conference.

Child Care Grants for JMM 2015 The AMS and MAA will provide about 40 reimbursement grants of US$250 per family to help defray child care costs for a number of registered participants of JMM 2015. The funds may be used for child care that frees a parent to participate more fully in the JMM. Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis until November 18, 2014. Final decisions on recipients will be made on or before November 25, 2014.

Child Care Grants for CSE15 SIAM is offering up to US$250 per family for attendees who bring children to the 2015 Conference on Computational Science and Engineering being held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in March 2015. The deadline for applications is January 16, 2015. Notifications will go out by Friday, February 6, 2015.

The above statement was approved by the Executive Committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics in November 2010. [The statement was prepared by Evelyn Sander on behalf of the Policy and Advocacy committee.]