Stereotype, Famous Women and the Field´s Medal

When you think about good mathematicians, do you think of
Vi Hart – the best
doodler ever!?!
and women?
Einstein´s Energy Release
Equation - 1907
Taylor Series -
Famous Women in Mathematics
Euler´s Number –
Newton´s equation for
the force between two
objects – 17th Century
Why are there no equations derived by women here?
When did women start attending
• At the beginning of the 20th century it was very difficult for women to
obtain a university education.
• In 1870 Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon helped to set up Girton College,
the first university college for women, but it was not recognised by the
university authorities.
What affect has this had on the modern view of
• In 1880 Newnham College was established at Cambridge University. By
as academics?
1910 there were justwomen
over a thousand
women students at Oxford and
Cambridge. However, they had to obtain permission to attend lectures
and were not allowed to take degrees.
Without a university degree it was very difficult for women to enter the
professions. After a long struggle, the medical profession had allowed women
to become doctors. Even so, by 1900 there were only 200 female doctors. It
was not until 1910 that women were allowed to become accountants and
bankers. However there were still no female diplomats, barristers or judges.
Hypatia: 370AD – 415AD
Hypatia was the first recognized female
She was born in Alexandria, Egypt,
around 350 AD. Besides being a
mathematician, she was an astute
astronomer and a philosopher.
Is she the first recognised female
mathematican because:
a. She was the only women in thousands
of years that happened to be good at
b. It was not a women´s place to take up
academic studies.
Winifred Edgerton Merrill: 1862 - 1951
The first women to receive a Ph. D in
"The granting of this degree was
the outstanding event of the 1886
Columbia Commencement. When
she was given her diploma, there
was a terrible round of applause
which all students in the body of
the house kept up fully two
minutes.“ (Mary Williams, 1887)
She was offered a position as professor of mathematics at Wellesley in
1891, but declined because of her impending marriage.
Emy Noether: 1882 - 1935
At her enrolment at the university,
she was one of only two women
among 1,000 students . A
doctorate was awarded to her in
She was in close correspondence
with Einstein for many years. They
had in-depth discussions on a
branch of mathematics called noncommutative algebra.
At the time of her death in 1935, Einstein referred to her as “The most
significant creative mathematical genius produced since women gained
access to higher education.”
1. How many modern female mathematicians
do you know the name of?
2. Does this mean that there are no female
mathematicians who are doing brilliant
3. How many modern male mathematicians do
you know the name of?
Top Set Year 9 at School
Average Trigonometry Test Score of Class: 60%
Average Trigonometry Test Score of Girls: 60%
Average Trigonometry Test Score of Boys: 60%
Best Year 9 Mathematician: Girl
Best Year 10 Mathematician: Boy
Best Year 11 Mathematician: Girl
Best Year 12 Mathematician: Boy
The Field´s Medal
Like the Nobel Prize for Maths but only given out
once every 4 years.
The last 52 Field´s Medal Winners were Men. In
fact there has never been a female Field´s Medal
Why do you think that is?
Percentage of female mathematics professors in the US
In 1995, women made up 18.7 percent of assistant math
professors and 7.6 percent of the full professors.
In 2003, women made up 26.5 percent of assistant math
professors and 9.7 percent of full professors.
The results also revealed that tenured female professors
earned about 8 percent less than male colleagues.
Many women get a close look at the academic prospects
ahead and say, "This job is not designed for me."
Is this now the generation which
will break the mould with more
female Field’s Medal winners?

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