Talking Maths in Public - Conference Reflections

I had a fantastic time in Bath this weekend where a whole bunch of maths communicators gathered together for the Talking Maths in Public conference.

I am not going to describe the huge variety of sessions and workshops as Tom Briggs has written an excellent overview of activities and speakers which covers all the who, what, wheres and whens. However I was inspired by Alison Kiddle's personal to do list and I think I would like to write a bit of personal reflection, some goals and some things to be mindful of.

Some Thoughts:

Firstly, I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the people and the variety of projects that are currently happening. I sometimes feel quite isolated when I am travelling around and it is so lovely to connect and reconnect with people who are out there on similar missions.

Secondly, I was able to reflect on some ways to address accessibility needs when presenting at and organising events. I was rather thrown when a blind student turned up to a Roadshow recently but I identified some appropriate activities and now have some instructions in braille. It is just a start and I am always open to ideas and suggestions of how to improve my provision so everyone can participate.

Also, I was also involved in a discussion on diversity which was fascinating. Maths is still a world where as a white, straight, cis, able-bodied person I can improve someones diversity statistics because I am a woman. We as a community have a long way to go here. I have many thoughts on this matter, probably enough to write a whole other blog post about.

Lastly, I am very much in favour of having a code of conduct at these types of event. Even if you imagine that everyone will be as considerate as you, it is important that it is clear what the expectations are and make sure that everyone feels welcome.

My To Do List:

1. I would like to write more. I enjoyed writing the book, and started this blog to continue practicing writing, to try to make it a habit but also to develop my ideas. Hopefully sometime soon I will find something interesting enough that other people might want to read.

2. I should definitely read more. The Mathematicians Lament was recommended and has been added to my reading list, it is available online. I have read the first few pages and am intrigued. There was a selection of books on display at the conference, some of which I own but haven't yet read! I also only manage to read the Cambridge Maths Espressos occasionally and even though sometimes I completely disagree with the guests, I have enjoyed several of Mr Barton's podcasts and should probably listen to more of them.

3. I need to branch out. The Maths Roadshow is my main program which is a great day for schools. I also regularly run a variety of workshops for other events for example STEP preparation days and FMSP enrichment events but I do want to branch out and plan some new hands on workshops. I have a few ideas percolating and I think the next stage is to flesh out my ideas and arrange to present them. Barney Maunder-Taylor had some great ideas for trialling workshops in local schools, I have the classroom at Cambridge Makespace at my disposal and I also have broached the idea of running an RI Masterclass. (I will try to write some blog posts about ideas I would like to develop!)

4. I will join some useful networks. I have had NAMA on my radar for a while but BIG was also brought to my attention. It is a network of Science Communicators and has some excellent top tips for freelancers as well as job vacancies and the like.

Overall it was a really great event with fab people and so many ideas to reflect on and develop. I feel like I barely scratched the surface and it has given me food for thought in the coming months.


  1. Nice reflections, and thanks for the mention Becky!

    I didn't mention the code of conduct but I've always thought it's an excellent idea. I first came across it at the annual MathsJam Gathering and, although it never seems necessary at these maths communicator events (everybody's awesome, reflective and considerate), I have been to conferences where half the men are overtly "on the pull", which can be uncomfortable (to say the least).

    I enjoyed your to-do list, and will be stealing things from it ;-)


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