Women and Non-binary Students into Maths PhDs!

Our Goal

Despite the fact that 40% of UK graduates in the mathematical sciences are female, only 6% of them go on to be professors [LMS report, 2013]. In October 2019, we (PhD students at the University of Edinburgh) founded the Piscopia Initiative to tackle the participation crisis of women and non-binary people in mathematics research in the UK. We aim to encourage women and non-binary students to pursue a PhD in mathematics.

How do we do this?

We offer both UK-wide and university-specific events at 11 UK universities through our local Piscopia committees. These are all aimed at women and non-binary undergraduate/ MSc students in mathematics and related disciplines, and have a number of aims. Firstly, they raise awareness for the PhD option among our target group and increase the attendees’ knowledge about doing a PhD and the application process. Further to this, they highlight women and non-binary role models. Finally, the events provide attendees with a support network and platform where they can ask questions in the future by connecting them with their peers, women & non-binary researchers at their university, and the UK-wide Piscopia community.

Get in touch at mary.llewellyn_at_ed.ac.uk or tiffany.vlaar_at_ed.ac.uk

Upcoming Events

Wednesday 28/10/2020 12:00-13:00 – “How to study remotely” and PhD information event for women and non-binary students at UCL, hosted by the UCL committee! Sign up here

18/11/2020 – PhD information event at the University of Bath, hosted by the local Bath Piscopia committee – more information soon

19/11/2020 from 1-2pm – PhD information event by the University of Reading committee – sign up link will follow soon.

Past Events

Tuesday 27/10/2020 13:00-14:00 – First PiWORKS seminar series talk by Professor Maggie Chen at Cardiff University. Jointly hosted with the Women in Mathematics Society at Cardiff. Sign up here

Wednesday 21/10/2020 12:00-13:30 – PhD information event at Heriot-Watt University, hosted by the local Heriot-Watt Piscopia committee! Sign up here

30/09/2020: Get Involved with the Piscopia Society – Online information session: Help us host a PhD information event at your university!

07/09/2020 – 11/09/2020: Online Conference
For previous events see our blog!

Even though we have moved online, we are still here for you to answer any questions you may have!

… and we are very keen to hear them. This can take any shape or form: email us, get in touch via our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages, use our anonymous Gradcafe forum. You can also arrange an one-on-one remote Skype, Zoom or Google Hangout meeting by emailing us (see below for our addresses). We know from our past events and our own experiences how important hearing from others is when considering your next steps, and we still want to give you a platform to do so, so please get in touch!

Timeline for 2020 – 2021

  • September 2020: Launch of the Piscopia Society

    We launch local committees at 11 UK universities, consisting of PhD students and active student members. These committees offer support and PhD information events to students at their university.

  • Monthly PiWORKS seminar

    This monthly seminar series features female & non-binary mathematics researchers from UK universities working in diverse research areas.

  • October 2020 – March 2021: Local Piscopia Committee Events

    Our local Piscopia committees host online events to encourage women and non-binary mathematics students (third and fourth year undergrads, MSc) at their own university to consider applying for a PhD through PhD information and networking events.

  • November 2020 – February 2021: Applications

    Students receive support from the team and the members of the Piscopia network to submit competitive PhD applications through the use of an anonymous gradcafe forum.

  • September 2021: Annual PiFORUM Conference

    Our annual conference facilitates a network of women and non-binary mathematics students in the UK and supports them in their application process.

  • September 2022: New Cohorts

    New Maths PhD Cohorts in the UK have higher number of women and non-binary students.

  • Further: Expansion of the Piscopia Society by launching local committees at more UK universities.


In 2019, we committed to develop an outreach scheme to encourage female and non-binary participation in postgraduate research programmes in the mathematical sciences across UK universities. Through awareness schemes, information events, and application support and mentoring, we aim to empower capable women and non-binary students in the early stages of their mathematical careers to believe in academia as a viable option, and bring their aspirations to fruition.  Partnerships with universities will provide the connections necessary to implement and expand the scheme. Success is measurable by monitoring the number of successful applications to postgraduate research schemes for the 2021 cohorts, attainment of the expansion of the scheme to at least 4 UK universities and the implementation of a UK-wide Piscopia society.

Why “Piscopia” Initiative?

Elena Cornaro Piscopia is the first woman ever to be awarded a PhD.


Mary Llewellyn
(current co-lead)

Second Year PhD in Mathematics
University of Edinburgh

Tiffany Vlaar
(current co-lead)

Fourth Year PhD in Mathematics
University of Edinburgh &
Heriot Watt University
tiffany.vlaar_at_ ed.ac.uk

Isabella Deutsch

Second Year PhD in Mathematics
University of Edinburgh

Only about 6% of professors in mathematics in the UK are female.

LMS Report 2013

This is opposed to about 30% of female students in PGR maths programs and 40% in maths undergrads. We want to encourage female students to consider an academic career.

We thank our partners

The Clinton Global Initiative

Get In Touch


tiffany.vlaar_at_ ed.ac.uk

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