x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

October 31, 2020
x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

A brilliant mathematician examines the complexity of gender andsociety and forges a path out of inequality.Why are men in charge? After years in the male-dominated fieldof mathematics and in the female-dominated field of art, EugeniaCheng has heard the question many times. In x + y, Cheng arguesthat her mathematical specialty -- category theory -- reveals why.Category theory deals more with context, relationships, and nuancedversions of equality than with intrinsic characteristics. Categorytheory also emphasizes dimensionality: much as a cube can cast asquare or diamond shadow, depending on your perspective, so too dogender politics appear to change with how we examine them. Becausesociety often rewards traits that it associates with males, such ascompetitiveness, we treat the problems those traits can create asmale. But putting competitive women in charge will leave manyunjust relationships in place. If we want real change, we need totransform the contexts in which we all exist, and not simply who wethink we are.