OSLO-Women took another step forward in the still male-dominated world of science Tuesday, as American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial differential equations.

“Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape,” Abel Committee chairman Hans Munthe-Kaas said in a statement.

“Her theories have revolutionised our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions.”

She is the first woman to win the prize, which comes with a cheque for six million kroner (620,000 euros, $703,000). She is also an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.

“I am aware of the fact that I am a role model for young women in mathematics,” said Uhlenbeck, according to a Princeton statement.

“It’s hard to be a role model, however, because what you really need to do is show students how imperfect people can be and still succeed... I may be a wonderful mathematician and famous because of it, but I’m also very human.”

Uhlenbeck, 76, is a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University, as well as visiting associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), both in the US.

The Cleveland native “developed tools and methods in global analysis, which are now in the toolbox of every geometer and analyst,” the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said.

With the award, Uhlenbeck joined a still very small club of women who have scored a scientific prize.

Of the 607 Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine between 1901 and 2018, only 19 women were among the awardees, according to the Nobel Prize website. Marie Curie won twice, once for physics and another time for chemistry.

Only one woman has won the other major international mathematics prize.