Maddison (1869-1950) was an English mathematician.
Her work focused on differential equations.
She studied at Cambridge and obtained a first-class
degree result in her Mathematical Tripos Exam, but was not awarded a degree on
account of her gender. She later got a resident mathematics fellowship at Bryn
Mawr College, where she received her PhD in 1896. A few years later, she became
associate professor and assistant to the president of the College. She put
together a thorough list of university courses open to women in Canada and the
(1851-1930) was an astronomer and mathematician. She held radical views
for her time, questioning religion and advocating women’s rights, which made
her a controversial character.
She became the head of the mathematics department at Wellesley College in
1888. In 1891, she was chosen as one of the first female members of the New
York Mathematical Society.
Alice Turner Schafer (1915-2009) was one
of the founders of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She was determined
to offer women better educational opportunities, especially in the field.
She completed her studies at the
University of Richmond, Virginia, at a time when women were not allowed inside
the campus library. She then obtained her PhD from the University of Chicago,
and later became a teacher, focusing especially on students with learning difficulties
and creating special classes for them. In 1985 she became a fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Charlotte Barnum (1860-1934) was a mathematician and women’s rights activist. She was the first woman to obtain a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University.
Even though she was rejected from Johns Hopkins University in 1890 on account of her gender, she persisted until she was allowed to attend lectures. She then moved to Yale, and obtained her PhD in 1935, opening new avenues for future female students. She worked for institutions such as the US Naval Observatory and the US Department of Agriculture.
Julia Robinson (1919-1985) was a mathematician who worked on
mainly on decision problems. She was a professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, after obtaining her PhD there in 1948.
Along with decision problems, she worked with
sequential analysis in statistics and game theory. She was the first female mathematician
elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, and the first women president
of the American Mathematical Society.
Conyers Hewitt (b. 1935) was the third African-American woman to ever receive a PhD in
Mathematics. She achieved this in 1962, graduating from the University of
In 1972, she became a professor at the University of Montana, and the
Chair of the Department of Mathematical Science in 1995. She has written
numerous papers and lectures in the field of abstract algebra and group theory.
Katherine Johnson (b.
1918) is a physicist and mathematician who has made crucial contributions to
several NASA missions, assuring their success with her highly accurate
calculations. She worked with NASA for several decades, and helped advance the
rights of both African-Americans and women.
She initially worked as a human computer, and later as an
aerospace technologist. She calculated trajectories for missions such as the
1961 Mercury mission or the 1969 Apollo 11 flight. She was portrayed by Taraji
P. Henson in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.
Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799) was an
Italian mathematician and philosopher. She was a member of the University of
Bologna, and was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook, and the first
in the world to be appointed as a Mathematics professor.
She was a child
prodigy who could speak seven languages by age eleven, and at age nine composed
and gave an hour-long speech in Latin on the subject of women’s education. The
book she wrote and published was the first ever to discuss differential and
integral calculus. In later life, she dedicated herself to philanthropy, and
established a care home for the elderly.
(1921-2005) became the first black female
engineer to work for NASA in 1958. She started out as a human computer in the segregated
West Area Computing division, but rose through the ranks to eventually achieve
the most senior engineering title available.
She began work at NASA in 1951, and became interested in a career in
engineering after starting work at the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. She managed
to obtain the title after attending graduate-level night classes alongside her
work, and in the process helped advance the rights of both women and people of
colour in the workplace. She was played by Janelle Monáe in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.