That being said, I wanted to research some woman that played a role in the history of mathematics. I also wanted to see what struggles they had to deal with when presenting or even collaborating with other mathematicians. This idea of how they had to do math in that time period. This is because I know a lot of my future career deals with being able to collaborate and bounce ideas off of my colleagues.
A woman by the name of Maria Agnesi was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, philanthropist from 1718-1799. She was a child prodigy, even though she was the oldest of 21 other siblings. She studied language and mathematics. One of her famous works was when you wrote a textbook to explain math to her younger brothers, which is a noted math textbook to this day. Here’s a side note thought for you. I found it fascinating that she wrote the book for her brothers, what about her sisters? I found out that this was because her father told her that was her responsibility was to educate her brothers. Anyways, she was also the first woman to be appointed a university professor of mathematics. She also brought many ideas from contemporary mathematical thinkers due to her knowing various languages. Once she was released from the duty of educating her brothers she chose to work with the less fortunate.
Another woman by the name of Sophia Germain was a French mathematician in 1776-1831. We talked about her the most in class. I found her story to be quite interesting. She was self-taught from books and lecture notes about mathematics. Her most famous work was accomplishing a limited proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, which stated that for any prime under 100 where certain conditions were met. However, she had to use a male name, M. LeBlanc, in order to attend or even talk about her work with other mathematicians. It wasn’t until Gauss came along that Germain got recognized for being a woman in mathematics. He wrote a letter about how her strength and how she faced problems was noble, especially in this type of field. Another fun fact about her was that she studied geometry to escape boredom during the French Revolution when she was trapped in her room.
The last women I am going to mention is Mary Somerville. She was a Scottish and British mathematician in 1780-1872. At age 15, she noticed some algebraic formulas used as decoration in a fashion magazine, and from that she began to study (on her own) algebra to make sense of what she saw. However, when she began this journey her family opposed it. She even got a hold of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry without her parent’s permission. Her second husband, Dr. William Somerville, approved of her study of mathematics. Throughout her life she has accomplished a lot mathematically. She was one of the first two women admitted into the Royal Astronomical Society, she has a college (Somerville College) named after her, and was named “Queen of Nineteenth Century Science”.
Even though I only touched on a few women in mathematics; there experiences and triumphs are incredible. I really enjoyed Maria because she displayed a different type of math, teaching, that as I mentioned earlier in the lower levels in mainly a women dominant career. I enjoyed learning about how in order for Sophia to even talk to other about her work she had to change her name to sound like a man until Gauss finally recognized her work even though she’s a woman. Finally, when reading about Mary I took a second to think about if I had the strength to go against my families wishes to study a subject such as math. That determination from a woman when at that time weren’t highly credited in the field of mathematics.
In conclusion, I give credit to the women in mathematics. Their strength and tenacity is something that I want to strive for in my future career. Obviously I may not face as big of challenges as they did but I will have challenges that I will need to face. I do notice when I say I’m a math major a majority of the people say it’s mainly a male major. Now knowing the struggle women had to go through just to get their work noticed is so incredible.