A podcast about emotions in mathematics

I have recently discovered a relatively new YouTube channel called Math-Life balance that covers the emotional side of doing mathematics professionally. It is also available as an audio podcast: https://anchor.fm/math-life-balance.

The channel is created by mathematician postdoc Maria Yakerson and she posts mostly interviews with fellow mathematicians. Occasionally, she discusses her own feelings around her career as a professional mathematician. In one video, she mentioned that one reason for her to start this channel is that she feels like an oustider in her discipline from time to time. The other reason being of course the joy she finds in learning from her interviewees. What I like about the channel is that the interview partners are truly divers.

The interviews usually contain some questions about how the interviewee got into mathematics, about their struggles in mathematics, about fears and also about some advice to fellow mathematicians. In the case of older/established mathematicians she might also ask them for advice to younger colleagues. You might also find a decent amount of anecdotes, partially related to famous names, in there.

It also occurred to me that many of the interviewees seem to be quite reserved. But I imagine that I would have a hard time myself to open up if I don’t know the interviewer very well and if my interview will be published on YouTube. On the other hand Maria does make the impression or convey the feeling that she will not judge your answers too much which creates an emotionally safe space which is an important ingredient for such a project.

I guess one clear commonality among almost all interviewees is that they all struggle in their job (which probably most of us do sometimes) and that they all feel “stupid” sometimes. But I can hardly imagine that their feeling stupid is due to a selection bias on part of the interviewer, it is probably just part of the game. One could even go so far as to say that if one person, let’s call her Alice, feels stupid in some talk or conversation with another person, say Bob, then it’s either because of a lack of empathy on Bob’s part of because Alice just chose the wrong talk to sit in on. Even the latter could have been only caused by a lack of information about the talk’s content or due to social pressure or whatever. So in almost no case was any actual mathematical stupidity involved.

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