Woman mathematician wins mathematics' highest prize, first time ever
Female representation in STEM fields is so important, I'm really buzzed to hear this news!! Congratulations to her
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Wonderful!! It's a long time since I was an undergraduate. Back then, women were thought to be so incompetent in mathematics that there was not even a women's bathroom in the mathematics building. I hope this inspires other young women to study math.
Last edited by dorispulaski; 08-13-2014 at 03:18 PM.
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Here is a bit about the other three women mathematicians mentioned in the article.
Hypatia was a major philosopher (a Platonist), astronomer, and mathematician of the fourth century CE. None of her actual writings have been preserved, but we know that she produced commentaries on Euclid, Ptolemy, and Diophantus, some in collaboration with her father, Theon of Alexandria. She also constructed scientific instruments.
Hypathia ran afoul of riots and civil clashes between the Christian followers of the Bishop of Alexandria (later St. Cyril) and the Roman governor Orestes, who protected the Jews of the city as well as Greek and Roman “pagans”. Early Christians were suspicious of mathematicians because of the association of mathematics with devilish practices like astrology and fortune telling, A mob dragged Hypatia into a church and cut her to pieces.
Sophie Germain is most famous as a number theorist for her contributions to Fermat’s Last Theorem, and as a physicist for pioneering work in elasticity, winning prestigious prizes in both fields.
As a teenager Germain taught herself Greek and Latin so that she could read all the books about mathematics in her father’s library. She aspired to study mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique, but was not allowed to attend lectures. However, lecture notes were posted publicly and students were then expected to submit commentary on them. There was a slacker-boy named Le Blanc at the school who never attended classes or submitted any homework, so Germain thought it was safe to purloin his name and start writing mathematical papers and corresponding with mathematicians as “M. Le Blanc.”
Eventually she was caught out, and famous mathematicians such as Lagrange and Gauss befriended her.
Emmy Noether is one of the most important figures in the development of modern abstract algebra. Her work on the theory of ideals in ring theory remains definitive. Noether was allowed to study at the University of Erlangen, where her father was on the faculty. After receiving her degree she secured a position as lecturer for seven years, although she was not paid (let’s not get crazy here). Later she secured a position as lecturer in matrhematics at the prestigious University of Gottingen, but the deal was that the University would announce that the lectures would be by the famous mathematician David Hilbert. (“Oh dear. Prof. Hilbert is sick today. His lecture will be read by Miss Germain.” Well, it’s better than the fate of Hypatia.)
In 1933 she was expelled from Germany (or fled), seeking haven in the United States. She taught at the prestigious women’s college Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania for the rest of her career.
Emmy Noether as a young woman:
Hypatia of Alexandria (19th centrity painting):
Great information, Math!
And there's always Grace Hopper, who helped develop the language COBOL for computers. She was a navy admiral, and I just looked up to see that a destroyer and a supercomputer are named for her.
And our old friend Florence Nightingale, who was one of the greatest statisticians of her era, in addition to being a nursing pioneer. The two pursuits aren't so far apart as they look, because statistics are a great help in studying public health.
Hypatia of Alexandria was one of the people featured in Judy Chicago's art installation piece The Dinner Party. Here is Hypatia's place setting:
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