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A Conversation on Professional Norms in Mathematics

Mathilde Gerbelli-Gauthier, Pamela E. Harris, Michael A. Hill, Dagan Karp, and Emily Riehl, eds.
Publication Date: 
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[Reviewed by
Hannah Robbins
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A Conversation on Professional Norms in Mathematics is a collection of essays about various aspects of the mathematical community that outline and illuminate problems with inclusivity and provide examples leading to specific recommendations on how we can all work to improve our professional worlds.  
Its insights seem mainly intended for those already within the community rather than those outside it, and speak to topics as varied as mentorship, appropriate abstraction levels in service classes, making question and answer sessions more inclusive, and sexual harassment within higher education.  It is likely that not all sections will speak to each reader, department, or school, but the essays are independent enough that it is easy to focus only on those that are relevant.  
These essays are not just catering to fashionable topics in today’s discourse, but provide a thoughtful and practical combination of humanizing anecdotes and statistical assessments told by those connected to both the research and lived experience of the topic they are discussing.  The presentation styles vary widely, with some borrowing mathematical research language in a way I occasionally found got in the way of their message, but overall there is a lot of good information and useful ideas presented in ways that are both general enough to apply to many people and specific enough to seem like they could be implemented in your classroom or departmental social spaces.  
While this is not a comfortable book, it makes a good start to personal introspection and/or workplace conversation about what we all need to think about and change in order to make math and academic math spaces work for everyone.


Hannah Robbins is a professor at Roanoke College in southwestern Virginia.