MathSafe from the American Mathematical Society

MathSafe is a program by and for the mathematical community to support a safe and welcoming environment at meetings.

Conceived by leaders from the Joint Policy Board of Mathematics and modeled after SafeAGU at the American Geophysical Union, MathSafe trains volunteers to help anyone at meetings who experiences harassment or other misconduct.

Get trained to be a volunteer

The first MathSafe training will take place online, on November 4, 2021, 1-3pm EDT. Volunteers who complete this training will be able to serve at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) and 2022 AMS Sectional Meetings.

Please sign up if you are interested in this training or if you want to be contacted when future trainings are scheduled.

MathSafe FAQ

What is MathSafe?

MathSafe is a program that trains volunteers to offer on-site assistance at meetings if a participant experiences harassment or other misconduct. MathSafe was created by and for the mathematical community to support a safe and welcoming environment at meetings and conferences.

Why was it created?

MathSafe arises from the math community's commitment to establishing a welcoming and inclusive environment, free from harassment and other marginalizing behavior. As we've learned from our history, not everyone behaves in a civil or appropriate manner all of the time. Examples from past Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) include a job interview held in a hotel room with an applicant sitting on a bed to answer questions, and an argument that escalated into a physical altercation. Mathematics meetings have had codes of conduct policies for many years. MathSafe is a way for members of the community to help support the goals of these policies by serving as on-site contacts who are easily accessible throughout a meeting.

How did MathSafe get set up? Who's involved?

The Joint Policy Board of Mathematics members created MathSafe for mathematical science meetings, modeling it after SafeAGU, a program run by the American Geophysical Union. The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is hiring the consultant for the initial trainings and sponsoring the administration of MathSafe to benefit the entire mathematical community.

Leaders from the American Statistical Association (ASA), Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) have signed on to participate along with the AMS. Volunteers from across the mathematical community are welcome and encouraged to sign up for MathSafe training.

Which meetings will have MathSafe volunteers present?

Volunteers who complete the first training (held online November 4, 2021) will be able to serve at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings and 2022 AMS Sectional Meetings.

After this pilot phase, additional trainings will be announced so volunteers can participate at future meetings, such as the 2022 International Congress of Mathematicians, and future conferences run by MathSafe partners.

What are examples of misconduct a MathSafe volunteer can help me deal with?

  • If you've been invited to a job interview in a hotel room (this is against JMM policies)
  • If someone is following you and you feel unsafe
  • If you experience verbal harassment
  • If you experience physical violence or unwanted touching

Will volunteers listen in to my conversations and police my opinions?

No. Volunteers wear buttons signaling that they're willing to be approached and help if someone experiences misconduct.

Are the volunteers some kind of patrol that will roam the meetings to police behavior?

No. Volunteers wear buttons signaling that they're willing to be approached and help if someone experiences misconduct.

Can MathSafe volunteers settle my argument?

Volunteers are not referees. Rather, they help connect people who experience misconduct with meeting organizers, formal reporting channels, support services, or local authorities.

What will training include?

Training will cover these topics and more:

  • Codes of Conduct
  • Where harassment tends to happen at meetings
  • Why harassment happens
  • What if the harasser is someone I know/senior to me
  • What to do, what not to do

I want to volunteer. Do I need to complete training before each meeting I volunteer for?

Volunteers who complete the November 4 training will be eligible to serve at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings and at any 2022 AMS Sectional meeting. The training requirements will be further delineated for future meetings by MathSafe partners.

What if I attend the training but decide I don't want to volunteer?

There is no obligation to volunteer after completing the training. All active volunteers will be required to complete the training, however. MathSafe volunteers need not be "on duty" for the entire meeting. They will simply wear the MathSafe button when it works within their schedule.

If I tell a MathSafe volunteer about misconduct, do they automatically file an official report?

Because this is a pilot program we intend to refine as we proceed, MathSafe volunteers will be asked to record their interactions in a generic way that does not provide any identifying information. Official reports are only made by individuals through the official Ethics Point portal. Talking to a MathSafe volunteer does not obligate you to make an official report.

Will MathSafe volunteers enforce COVID protocols such as mask-wearing?

MathSafe volunteers are not enforcers. If COVID safety protocols are not being followed, anyone (including MathSafe volunteers) can bring this to the attention of the meeting organizers.

Have further questions?

Training and Implementation:

The first MathSafe training will take place online November 4, 2021 from 1-3 pm EDT, conducted by the same independent consultant who trained volunteers for SafeAGU and similar programs. Volunteers who complete this training will be able to serve at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Seattle, WA and 2022 AMS Sectional Meetings. A separate training will be held for those interested in volunteering at ICM 2022.

This training can accommodate 300 people. If more than 300 people sign up, everyone beyond the first 300 will be contacted when future trainings are scheduled.

Please sign up if you are interested in the November 4th training or if you want to be contacted when future trainings are scheduled.