Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary

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This volume features substantive biographical essays on 59 women from around the world who have made significant contributions to mathematics from antiquity to the present. Designed for secondary school students and the general public, each profile describes major life events, obstacles faced and overcome, educational and career milestones—including a discussion of mathematical research in non-technical terms—and interests outside of 2 promotics. Although the collection includes historical women, the emphasis is on contemporary mathematicians, many of whom have not been profiled in any previous work. The work also celebrates the contributions of minority women, including 10 African-American, Latina, and Asian mathematicians.

Written by practicing mathematicians, teachers and researchers, these profiles give voice to the variety of pathways into mathematics that women have followed and the diversity of areas in which mathematics can work. Many profiles draw on interviews with the subject, and each includes a short list of suggested reading by and about the mathematician. Most mathematicians profiled stress the value, importance, and enjoyment of collaborative research, contradicting the prevailing notion that doing good mathematics requires isolation. This collection provides not only a substantial number of role models for girls interested in a career in mathematics, but also a unique depiction of a field that can offer a lifetime of challenge and enjoyment.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Joyce Yen
Morrow and Perl have brought together fifty-nine women from around the world, assorted backgrounds, and various eras who share a love and zest for mathematics. These women have achieved some of the highest honors in mathematics, such as the MacArthur "Genius" fellowships and appointments to the National Academy of Sciences, while often defying the odds and breaking beyond barriers. Readers are introduced to each woman's childhood experiences with mathematics and science and how she was given opportunities to nurture this interest. Each woman has had more than one significant mentor who helped her explore her mathematical curiosity. Some, such as Sophie Germain, a French mathematician born in 1776, had to hide their mathematical interests until given the proper opportunity. Germain secretly studied mathematics at night because her family believed it an improper thing for women to do. Eventually her parents relented, and Germain was allowed to attend a university and study math. Perseverance is a key component to many of these women's successes. Mary Gray, now a professor of mathematics at American University in Washington, D.C., was asked by her first graduate course instructor, "What are you doing here? Why don't you stay home and take care of kids?" She excelled in her graduate studies and went on to be the founding president of the Association of Women in Mathematics and constantly challenges gender issues in the mathematical community. These two women are just a few examples of the successful mathematicians included in this reference book. The book stays away from rigorous mathematical definitions and concepts, but when necessary will provide a general example or description of the particular mathematical field. The editors chose to include women from all time periods, although they do focus more on contemporary mathematicians. For the reader who is interested in learning more about these women and their work, additional references, both academic and bibliographical, are provided. Index. Illus. Photos. Source Notes. Further Reading. Appendix.
Library Journal
It is a rare high school girl who will be inspired to study mathematics by reading any of these 59 histories of discrimination and discouragement and learning, for instance, that Julia Robinson didn't mind being the only girl in a room full of boys because "mostly they paid no attention to her unless they needed help with homework." This dictionary contains signed articles with references to works by and about the subject, written by women mathematicians and educators. Indexes list dates of birth and countries of origin and employment. Most of the women profiled are living, currently active academic mathematicians, and several were interviewed especially for this dictionary. Six of these same women were also among those interviewed for Claudia Henrion's Women in Mathematics (Indiana Univ., 1997), which addresses the question of why even the most successful women mathematicians continue to feel like outsiders in the mathematical community. In writing for a high school/general audience, the contributors have had to tackle the "devilishly difficult task" of describing mathematical achievements to non-mathematicians. It seems a bit too bad that the focus on academic mathematicians excludes such women as Constance Reid (recently awarded the 1998 Communications Award for mathematics) or Sheila Tobias (famous for studies of math anxiety), whose contributions might seem more accessible to young women. Notable Mathematicians (Gale, 1997) has a good selection of famous historical female mathematicians and may be sufficient for the needs of many libraries. However, this dictionary introduces us to the mathematical achievements of many less-famous women, and the biographies of modern lives are less remote from the experience of modern people. For public and academic libraries.--Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This book features five-to-six page profiles of 59 mathematicians and scientific computing researchers from around the world. Each profile describes the woman's major life events and educational and career milestones, includes a discussion of her areas of mathematical research in nontechnical terms, and lists works by and about that person. All entries have an accompanying black-and-white photograph. The majority of essays are based on interviews by the authors. Appendixes give listings of dates of birth and countries of employment and origin and the subject index provides easy access. Notable Mathematicians: From Ancient Times to the Present (Gale, 1998) profiles 23 of the same women. When comparing the two profiles of Karen Uhlenbeck, readers will find that Notable Women presents more information regarding her elementary school experiences, college choices, and difficulties in finding a first tenure-track position and mentors. Morrow and Perl's book also includes three profiles of African-American mathematicians, one Latina profile, and one Asian profile not found in the Gale book.-P. A. Dolan, Illinois State University, Normal
Presents substantive biographical essays on 59 women from around the world who have made significant contributions to mathematics. Although the collection includes historical women, the emphasis is on contemporary mathematicians. Designed for secondary school students and the general public, each profile describes major life events, obstacles faced and overcome, educational and career milestones (including a discussion of mathematical research in non- technical terms), and outside interests. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313291319
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/1998
  • Pages: 320
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

CHARLENE MORROW is Co-Director of SummerMath, a six-week program for high school girls at Mount Holyoke College, past president and current co-Executive Director of Women and Mathematics Education, and Chair of the Comprehensive Mathematics Education for Every Child Committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

TERI PERL is a consultant in education and technology with Teri Perl Associates.

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Table of Contents

Maria Gaetana Agnesi 1
Andrea Bertozzi 6
Lenore Blum 11
Sylvia Bozeman 17
Marjorie Lee Browne 21
Leone Burton 25
Fan King Chung 29
Ingrid Daubechies 34
Emilie de Breteuil du Chatelet 38
Etta Zuber Falconer 43
Joan Feigenbaum 47
Elizabeth Fennema 51
Herta Taussig Freitag 56
Sophie Germain 62
Evelyn Boyd Granville 66
Mary Gray 71
Gloria Conyers Hewitt 76
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper 80
Rhonda Hughes 85
Joan Hutchinson 90
Hypatia 94
Nancy Kopell 98
Sofya Korvin-Krukovskaya Kovalevskaya 102
Christine Ladd-Franklin 107
Anneli Lax 113
Gilah Chaya Vanderhoek Leder 118
Emma Trolskaya Lehmer 123
Ada Augusta Byron Lovelace 128
Vivienne Malone-Mayes 133
Dusa Waddington McDuff 137
Marie-Louise Michelsohn 142
Cathleen Synge Morawetz 147
Emmy Noether 152
Karen Parshall 157
Bernadette Perrin-Riou 161
Harriet Pollatsek 164
Cheryl Praeger 169
Mina Spiegel Rees 174
Ida Rhodes 180
Julia Bowman Robinson 185
Judith Roitman 190
Mary Ellen Rudin 195
Mary Beth Ruskai 200
Cora Sadosky 204
Alice Turner Schafer 209
Doris Wood Schattschneider 214
Charlotte Angas Scott 219
Marjorie Wikler Senechal 225
Lesley Milman Sibner 229
Mary Fairfax Grieg Somerville 233
Pauline Sperry 238
Alicia Boole Stott 242
Olga Taussky-Todd 246
Jean Taylor 252
Chuu-Lian Terng 257
Karen Uhlenbeck 261
Marion Walter 267
Sylvia Young Wiegand 272
Grace Chisholm Young 277
App. I Dates of Birth 283
App. II Countries of Employment and Origin 285
Index 289
About the Editors and Contributors 295
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