Hot answers tagged

83

Emmy Noether comes first to mind, as one of the most influential mathematicians in abstract algebra, specifically in the development of Noetherian rings (along with many properties of ideals). One aspect of her work that high school students might like is from another area, analysis. Noether's theorem says that every symmetry of the laws of nature (or the ...


60

Julia Robinson! I recommend her for a high school audience for a few reasons: Mathematical reasons: She is best known for her work towards the solution of Hilbert's 10th Problem, regarding an algorithm for solving Diophantine Equations. High school students can absolutely recognize and solve particular Diophantine Equations. Furthermore, and more relevant ...


49

Perhaps not strictly a mathematician in the traditional sense, but I think Ada Lovelace might be a great woman to start with in today's digital world. She even has an important programming language named after her: Ada. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada ...


41

Sophie Germain and her work on Fermat's Last Theorem.


35

Any Living One who is friendly enough to come talk with them. Seriously, learning about "people in books" can sometimes be inspiring. But actual live role models are best. Write a local college, university, or business to find a woman who self-identifies as a mathematician. Invite her to your school to spend some time with your students. You want a real ...


35

Maryam Mirzakhani, who just won the Fields Medal, and also was the first Iranian student to win a gold medal in the IMO in 1995 with a perfect score. My colleague Mohammad Javaheri was on Iran's IMO team with her in 1995. He told us the other day that after Maryam won the gold, when the rest of the team went up to congratulate her she said "next, the Fields ...


28

Vi Hart, the self-termed Mathemusician. I especially enjoy her Doodling in Math Class YouTube series.


26

Sonya Kovalevsky, correspondent of Weierstrass, for example.


25

Edit (Jan 2018) I recommend checking Annie Perkins' page: The Mathematicians Project: Mathematicians Are Not Just White Dudes If you scroll down, then you will find a section entitled Women (alphabetical by last name). There are some great sources/names there, and - as a bonus - the project keeps evolving! $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ Edit: Marjorie Rice has ...


22

If your main interest is to provide a role model that students can identify with, you might want to look at Danica McKellar. According to her Wikipedia entry: McKellar studied mathematics at UCLA, graduating summa cum laude in 1998. As an undergraduate, she coauthored a scientific paper with Professor Lincoln Chayes and fellow student Brandy Winn entitled &...


20

Classically speaking, Maria Agnesi is the best classical mathematician to study. She published calculus texts that expanded and reflected upon the works of Leonhard Euler.


18

Adm. Grace Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale (1934), helped program the Mark I (1944), developed the first compiler (1952) and some early computer languages, and worked on the development of the UNIVAC I.


18

(I am a woman in my last year of a PhD in low-dimensional topology, I'll be a postdoc in the fall, and I have research aspirations. I'm mostly trying to articulate how I got to this stage in my life. In a real sense, my answer shouldn't matter very much since the many things that keep women away from mathematics clearly didn't work on me too well, or on the ...


16

I think there is no clear answer, although there has been some research on this topic. I remember one study which focussed on gender differences of university math students: Mischau, A., Blättel-Mink, B., Daniels, J., & Lehmann, J. (2004). Doing gender in mathematics: indications for more gender equality in German universities? Bielefeld: IFF. The ...


15

Maria Gramegna, the brilliant student of Giuseppe Peano. When you use matrices to solve systems of differential equations, you rely in many ways to her ideas. She defined the exponential function of a matrix through its power series and used it as we do it now. Though this is not strictly speaking high school mathematics, you can mention her story to every ...


13

Alicia Boole Stott, the daughter of George Boole (Boolean Algebra), had a deep understanding of 4D geometry. She got married and lived the life that entailed back then (1890s and on). Coxeter gives her husband some credit for connecting her to Pieter Schoute. They worked together and published some papers on 4D polytopes. Coxeter's book, Regular ...


12

I think for young girls Ruth Lawrence is a great role model since she got her phd at age of 17: At the age of 9, Ruth Lawrence gained an O-level in mathematics, setting a new age record. Also at the age of 9 she achieved a Grade A at A-level Pure Mathematics. In 1981 Ruth Lawrence passed the Oxford University interview entrance examination ...


12

First, we need to be aware of the ways that women are discouraged, and when those are not related to what mathematics is, we need to change the culture. Does math have to be approached as a competitive sport? No. Related to this concern, please note that I am the only obvious woman in the top 40 users here. There are plenty of women blogging about math and ...


12

Grace Chisholm Young seems overlooked so far (13 answer so far) and in my opinion she is worth considering. She worked mostly in real analysis and what is sometimes called classical point set theory (among other things, she's the "Young" in the Denjoy-Young-Saks theorem and she wrote a well known survey paper on nowhere differentiable continuous functions in ...


11

More famous for computer science than maths, but a strong mathematician none the less and creator of the Liskov substitution principle (the L in SOLID), Barbara Liskov.


10

Two fundamental issues, in my observation: pathetically, quite a few (male) people subconsciously decide that, while they are not athletes or whatever, their machismo can be proven in ... mathematics. By math contests and being aggressive in class. Vehicle for ego. As a consequence, there's the "oop, it's not macho if chix can do it, too" unfortunate-riff... ...


10

While in high school Britney Gallivan folded a piece of (very special) paper twelve times, when most people thought it couldn't be folded more than 7 or 8 times, and wrote a paper about it. Like the amateur mathematician, Marjorie Rice, mentioned in another answer, she shows that people who are deeply engaged in a problem can make advances, and that ...


10

I have several daughters and I like talking to them about my female friends in the computer graphics industry. In particular, an acquaintance of mine, Kelly Ward, who did the physics (and math) for the hair in Disney's Tangled. A few links: http://www.gpb.org/blogs/passion-for-learning/2012/06/06/disneys-tangled-an-exercise-in-physics-and-computer-...


9

The story of Sarah Flannery may interest high school students, as she worked on non-trivial mathematics related to codes as a sixteen year old.


9

Thanks to Google Doodle, today I learned about Olga Ladyzhenskaya and her fantastic life. From Wikipedia. Ladyzhenskaya was born and grew up in Kologriv. She was the daughter of a mathematics teacher who is credited with her early inspiration and love of mathematics. In October 1939 her father was arrested by the NKVD and soon killed. Young Olga was able ...


8

Émilie du Châtelet ,(17 December 1706 – 10 September 1749) was a French mathematician, physicist, and author during the Age of Enlightenment. Her crowning achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton's work Principia Mathematica. The translation, published posthumously in 1759, is still considered the standard French ...


8

Ingrid Daubechies, known for Daubechies wavelets and former president of the IMU. Ruth Moufang, known for Moufang loops.


6

I see the original question as actually two questions asked here: How do we engage women into studying mathematics? How do we get women to become mathematicians? Studying mathematics for the goal of becoming mathematicians (pure, applied, etc.) is a subset to the first question. For the first question, I have read about some of Jo Boaler's research in ...


6

Mary Somerville (1780-1872) was a self-taught mathematician and an expert on theoretical astronomy. The Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1897) described her as 'the most remarkable woman of her generation'. See this article about her.


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