Women and Non-binary Students into Maths PhDs!

The Piscopia Initiative is a UK-wide network of women and non-binary undergraduate/MSc students, PhD students, and researchers in Mathematics and related disciplines. We offer both UK-wide and university-specific events at 12 UK universities through our local Piscopia committees. These are all aimed at women and non-binary undergraduate/ MSc students in mathematics and related disciplines.

Most of our university-specific events take place in autumn/winter. If you missed out this year, we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have as a woman or non-binary person in Mathematics (or related discipline) about dissertations, PhD life, whether a PhD is the right choice for you, PhD applications, a career in industry after doing a PhD, or just to have a chat!  Please see the contact details of the initiative’s co-leads below or find contact details for our committee members at their respective committee pages. Alternatively, you can ask any questions on our anonymous gradcafe forum.

Meanwhile, our UK-wide events, such as the PiWORKS seminar are still running.
Stay updated on all our events by joining our mailing list!
Also check out our contacts page where you can find info on related initiatives and events.

Upcoming Events (times are in BST)

Tuesday, 29 June, 1-2pm, PiWORKS seminar talk by Dr. Olga Maleva (University of Birmingham) on “Lipschitz functions: from Newton’s apple to fractals”
Sign up at: https://piworks_june2021.eventbrite.com

Past Events

14/06/2021, Online tea time chat with current women PhD students at the University of Birmingham by the Birmingham Piscopia committee.
25/05/2021, PiWORKS seminar talk by Dr. Heather Battey (Imperial College London).
27/04/2021, PiWORKS seminar talk by Dr. Angela Tabiri (AIMS-Google AI postdoctoral fellow at AIMS Ghana and lead of Femafricmaths).
16/04/2021 Event on careers after your mathematics degree by the St Andrews Piscopia committee.
30/03/2021, PiWORKS seminar talk by Dr. Laura Ciobanu (Heriot-Watt University).
11/03/2021 “How to survive your dissertation” event by the Edinburgh Piscopia committee.
10/03/2021, Warwick Women in Maths event, jointly organised by the Warwick Piscopia committee and the University of Warwick Mathematics department, aimed at celebrating the achievements of women and non-binary mathematicians and giving students an idea what research in maths looks like, where a career in maths can take you, and insights into the personal experiences of a diverse range of mathematicians.
03/03/2021, talk by the two co-leads of the Piscopia Initiative in an ICMS meeting on “Progression from taught to research degrees in the mathematical sciences“.
24/02/2021, Online Piscopia Society social.
23/02/2021, PiWORKS seminar talk by Dr. Martine Barons (University of Warwick).
27/01/2021, PhD information event by the Heriot-Watt Piscopia committee.

26/01/2021, PiWORKS seminar talk by Professor Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb (University of Cambridge).
27/11/2020, PiDOORS afternoon of talks by women who have a PhD in Mathematics, who are currently working in industry.

15/12/2020, “How to write a dissertation” event by the UCL Piscopia Commitee.
24/11/2020, PiWORKS seminar talk by Professor Karen Page from UCL
25/11/2020, Event by the Bath Piscopia committee
25/11/2020, Virtual coffee break by Strathclyde committee
25/11/2020, PhD Information Event for St Andrews students by the St Andrews committee
19/11/2020, PhD information event by University of Reading committee
04/11/2020 – Info session for students at the University of Manchester by Manchester committee
28/10/2020 – “How to study remotely” and PhD information event hosted by the UCL committee
27/10/2020 – First PiWORKS seminar series talk by Professor Maggie Chen at Cardiff University. Jointly hosted with the Women in Mathematics Society at Cardiff.
21/10/2020 – PhD information event by the Heriot-Watt Piscopia committee
30/09/2020 – Get Involved with the Piscopia Society – Help us host events at your university!
07/09/2020 – 11/09/2020: Online PiFORUM Conference

For more previous events see our blog!

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 undergraduate/ MSc students in mathematics and related disciplines, who self-identify as female or non-binary. The events 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

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. We know from our past events and our own experiences how important hearing from others is when considering your next steps, and we 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 – Launch of PiDOORS

    Talks by women who have a PhD in mathematics and who are currently working in industry.

  • 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 (she/her)
(co-founder and current co-lead)

Second Year PhD in Mathematics
University of Edinburgh

Tiffany Vlaar (she/her)
(co-founder and 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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