Historical Women in Mathematics
In class we have been talking about how gender stereotypes still exist in mathematics. Often times women are not recognized near as much as men in mathematics. We will now talk about some of the different historical women in mathematics.
Agnesi: Maria was born into a wealthy and literate family, where she was the oldest of 21 children. By the time Maria had reached her teens, she had mastered mathematics. She would attend many of the gatherings at her family’s home, with many intellectuals of her time. In 1738 Maria published a collection of essays called Propositiones Philosophicae. These essays were based on many of the conversation she had at her families gatherings. However these essays were not her most famous work. In Maria’s twenties she started working on Analytical Institutions. Once her book was published is became one of the most complete work on finite and infinitesimal analysis. “Maria Gaetana Agnesi is best known from the curve called the "Witch of Agnesi" (see illustration from her text Analytical Institutions). Agnesi wrote the equation of this curve in the form y = a*sqrt(a*x-x*x)/x because she considered the x-axis to be the vertical axis and the y-axis to be the horizontal axis [Kennedy].” (http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/agnesi.htm) Maria gave up her work in mathematics once her father died in 1752.
Noether: Noether was in the upper middle class growing up. At the time women were not allowed to attend college, so instead Emmy went to finishing school. In 1900 Noether wanted a university education in mathematics, so she audited classes at Erlangen. She went to the University on Göttingen as an auditor, however a year later she went back to Erlangen when they started to enroll women. In a matter of three years Noether got her Ph.D. After receiving her Ph.D, she worked on Erlangen for seven years without pay. This is when she worked with Ernst Otto Fischer on theoretical algebra. “In 1915 she joined the Mathematical Institute in Göttingen and started working with Klein and Hilbert on Einstein's general relativity theory. In 1918 she proved two theorems that were basic for both general relativity and elementary particle physics. One is still known as "Noether's Theorem."” (https://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/noether.html) Noether also did a lot of work on ring theory, abstract algebra, and number theory among other things.
Kovalevsky: Sophia started her education in mathematics by studying her father’s calculus notes, which were used for wallpaper in her room. At fourteen she was able to do trigonometry. In 1870 Sophie studied under Karl Weierstrass at the University of Berlin for four years. Under Weierstrass she produced three papers, one of which called, On the Theory of Partial Differential Equations, was published in Crelle’s journal. After several years of trying to find a job, Sophie got an offer to lecture at the University of Stockholm, she was there for five years. After that she had many accomplishments, including: a tenured position and becaming an editor for a mathematics journal. However Kovalevsky’s greatest achievement was her paper, On the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point which won the competition for the Prix Bordin. (http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/kova.htm )