Aissa Wade is currently a Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University and she was the head of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Senegal, 2016-2018. She has held visiting positions at several institutions including The University of North Carolina, The African University of Science and Technology and The University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. Professor Wade received her doctoral degree in Mathematics from University Montpellier 2, France before joining the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research interests are in Poisson Geometry and related areas such as Symplectic Topology, Contact Geometry, and Mathematical Physics. Aissa received her Master’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Dakar, Senegal. She advocates women’s empowering in the Mathematical Sciences. She believes that early actions can encourage more women into STEM.
Why did you get into STEM?
I have loved mathematics since my childhood. I have always been very passionate about STEM fields. I was born and grew up in Dakar, Senegal where there were not many role models in STEM fields. But, I have been fortunate that I followed up on my innate enthusiasm for mathematics. With encouragement from my parents, I studied mathematics at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar in Senegal, where I got my Master’s Degree before going to France for my doctoral studies.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
For the last three years, I went back to Senegal and headed the Centre of Excellence in Senegal, called the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS-Senegal) in Mbour, Senegal. As head of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, I had the opportunity to help increase the number of African women in STEM by recruiting many women around Africa in the Master program and by developing a good curriculum in Mathematical Sciences that seeks to help with the development of Africa.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
Gender stereotypes remain and as many women in STEM fields, I face them directly or indirectly. One way to overcome gender stereotypes is to encourage conversations between men and women in order to change the public image of women in science.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to budding women in STEM is to keep advocating for girls and women in science.