The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA at the leading edge of the feminist and civil rights movement, whose calculations helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space--a powerful, revelatory contribution that is as essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America as Between the World and Me and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Sophie Germain taught herself mathematics by candlelight, huddled in her bedclothes. Ada Byron Lovelace anticipated aspects of general-purpose digital computing by more than a century. Cora Ratto de Sadosky advanced messages of tolerance and equality while sharing More than eighty women from academe, government, and the private sector provide a rich mélange of insights and strategies for creating workable career paths while maintaining rewarding personal lives. The book discusses related social and cultural issues, and includes a summary of recent comparative data relating to women and men in mathematics and women from other sciences. First-person accounts provide explicit how-tos; many narratives demonstrate great determination and perseverance. Talented women vividly portray their pleasure in discovering new mathematics. The senior among them speak out candidly, interweaving their mathematics with autobiographical detail. At the beginning of a new century, women at all stages of their careers share their outlooks and experiences. Clear, engaging, and meticulously researched, Complexities will inspire young women who are contemplating careers in mathematics and will speak to women in many fields of endeavor and walks of life.
Based on dozens of interviews and extensive historical research, and spiced with interesting photographs, this entertaining book relates stories about mathematicians who have defied stereotypes. There are five chapters about women that provide insight into the nineteenth and the mid-twentieth century, the early 1970s, the early 1990s, and 2004. Activists in many fields will take heart at the progress made during that time. The author documents the rudimentary struggles to become professionals, being married without entirely giving up a career, organizing to eliminate flagrant discrimination, improving the daily treatment of women in the professional community, and the widespread efforts toward true equality.The stories of African Americans in mathematics include the efforts of Benjamin Banneker, an eighteenth century American who had three grandparents born in Africa. He helped design Washington, DC, and made the computations for almanacs that succeeded Benjamin Franklin's. There are stories about African American mathematicians who were students and faculty in late nineteenth century colleges and accounts of several efforts to integrate the mathematical community in the mid-twentieth century. These stories indicate that though some efforts were more successful than others, all of them were difficult.The book concludes with a happier chapter about five black mathematicians in the early twenty-first century. The book also includes five interviews with leading Latin American mathematicians, along with the results of a survey of Latino research mathematicians in the Southwest.
In the vein of A Beautiful Mind, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, this volume tells the poignant story of the brilliant, colorful, controversial mathematician named Dorothy Wrinch.Drawing on her own personal and professional relationship with Wrinch and archives in the United States, Canada, and England, Marjorie Senechal explores the life and work of this provocative, scintillating mind. Senechal portrays a woman who was learned, restless, imperious, exacting, critical,witty, and kind. A young disciple of Bertrand Russell while at Cambridge, the first women to receive a doctor of science degree from Oxford University, Wrinch's contributions to mathematical physics, philosophy, probability theory, genetics, protein structure, and crystallography were anything butinconsequential. But Wrinch, a complicated and ultimately tragic figure, is remembered today for her much publicized feud with Linus Pauling over the molecular architecture of proteins. Pauling ultimately won that bitter battle. Yet, Senechal reminds us, some of the giants of mid-century science -including Niels Bohr, Irving Langmuir, D'Arcy Thompson, Harold Urey, and David Harker - took Wrinch's side in the feud. What accounts for her vast if now-forgotten influence? What did these renowned thinkers, in such different fields, hope her model might explain?Senechal presents a sympathetic portrait of the life and work of a luminous but tragically flawed character. At the same time, she illuminates the subtler prejudices Wrinch faced as a feisty woman, profound culture clashes between scientific disciplines, ever-changing notions of symmetry and patternin science, and the puzzling roles of beauty and truth.
Discovered by Lagrange, Sophie Germain (1776-1831) stood right between Gauss and Legendre, and both publicly recognized her scientific efforts. Unlike her female predecessors and contemporaries, Sophie Germain was an impressive mathematician and made lasting contributions to both number theory and the theories of vibration and elasticity. She was able to walk with ease across the bridge between the fields of pure mathematics and engineering physics. Though isolated and snubbed by her peers, she almost single-handedly changed the notion of the woman scholar. Sophie Germain was the first woman to win the prize of mathematics from the French Academy of Sciences. She is also the first and only woman who contributed to the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Prime Mystery: The Life and Mathematics of Sophie Germain paints a rich portrait of the brilliant and complex woman, including the mathematics she developed, her associations with Gauss, Legendre, and other leading researchers, and the tumultuous times in which she lived. In Prime Mystery, author Dora Musielak has done the impossible. She has chronicled Sophie Germain's brilliance through her life and work in mathematics, in a way that is simultaneously informative, comprehensive, and accurate.
Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-52), daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron and the highly educated Anne Isabella, is sometimes called the world's first computer programmer, and she has become an icon for women in technology today. But how did a young woman in the nineteenth century, without access to formal schooling or university education, acquire the knowledge and expertise to become a pioneer of computer science? Although it was an unusual pursuit for women at the time, Ada Lovelace studied science and mathematics from a young age. This book uses previously unpublished archival material to explore her precocious childhood--from her curiosity about the science of rainbows to her design for a steam-powered flying horse--as well as her ambitious young adulthood. Active in Victorian London's social and scientific elite alongside Mary Somerville, Michael Faraday, and Charles Dickens, Ada Lovelace became fascinated by the computing machines of Charles Babbage, whose ambitious, unbuilt invention known as the "Analytical Engine" inspired Lovelace to devise a table of mathematical formulae which many now refer to as the "first program." Ada Lovelace died at just thirty-six, but her work strikes a chord to this day, offering clear explanations of the principles of computing, and exploring ideas about computer music and artificial intelligence that have been realized in modern digital computers.
Was Einstein's first wife his uncredited coauthor, unpaid assistant, or his unacknowledged helpmeet? The real "Mileva Story."Albert Einstein's first wife, Mileva Einstein-Maric, was forgotten for decades. When a trove of correspondence between them beginning in their student days was discovered in 1986, her story began to be told. Some of the tellers of the "Mileva Story" made startling claims- that she was a brilliant mathematician who surpassed her husband, and that she made uncredited contributions to his most celebrated papers in 1905, including his paper on special relativity. This book, based on extensive historical research, uncovers the real "Mileva Story." Mileva was one of the few women of her era to pursue higher education in science; she and Einstein were students together at the Zurich Polytechnic. Mileva's ambitions for a science career, however, suffered a series of setbacks-failed diploma examinations, a disagreement with her doctoral dissertation adviser, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy by Einstein. She and Einstein married in 1903 and had two sons, but the marriage failed. Was Mileva her husband's uncredited coauthor, unpaid assistant, or his essential helpmeet?