Women in the Math World

Women in the Math World
Math is commonly known as the man?s major. Many college math professors are men and the same goes for their students. "One study revealed that women accounted for 15% of students in computer science, 16% in electrical engineering,. . . Gender splits in the faculty were similar" (Cukier). There are few women that have made an impact on the math society compared with the number of men. A person can ramble off names such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Pythagoras of Samos, and Jean-François Niceron. Where are the women mathematicians? This paper will examine the lives of women that have made an impact on the world of mathematics. There might be more men in the field of mathematics however the women that have made contributions need to be seen as equals
Three women that have made an impact include Mary Fairfax Somerville, Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Charlotte Angas Scott. Mary Fairfax Somerville was born on December 26, 1780 into a wealthy family of a vice admiral in the British Navy. While growing up she recieved little formal education. The one year that she spent in a boarding school for girls in Musselburgh, she endured a life full of rules and because unhappy. Mary became interested in mathematics while reading a women?s fashion magnize. She noticed symbols in the magazine that she had not noticed before and asked her brother?s tutor about the symbols. She convinced him to purchase some math for her for futher examination. Her studies in math did not go farther then this until after she married and her husband died, leaving her in good economic standing and independent. After her husbands death "she mastered J. Ferguson?s Academy and became a student of Issac Newton?s Principia" (Cite). In 1825, she began an experiment on magnetism that lead to a her paper entitled ?The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum?. The paper was presented in front of the Royal Society, where she became the first women to present to the Royal Society. This paper was later disproved however it was a starting point for her career in mathematics and for women in the field. In 1827, she started what would become her most successful study. Lord Brougham convinced her to "write a popularized rendition of Laplace?s Mecanique celeste and Newton?s Principia" (Cite). The paper was publised as ?The Mechanism of the Heavens?. Her paper was so successful, "a portrait bust of her was commisioned by her admirers in the Royal Society and placed in their great hall" (Cite). She went on to write many more books on mathematics which earned her election to the Royal Astronomical Society as the first women. Mary Fairfax Somerville lead the pathway for women in the man?s world. Maria Gaetana Agnesi was destined for a life in mathematics, being born on May 16, 1718 to a professor of mathematics. "She was recognized as a child prodigy very early; spoke French by the age of five; and had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and several modern languages by the age of nine. At her teens, Maria mastered mathematics" (Cite). Her days of a child were filled with discussions with guests about abstract philosophical and mathematics. As a shy child she did not care much for these discussions and after the death of her mother retreated from the discussions in order to care for her twenty siblings and father. The task of caring for her family did not slow down her studies, in 1738 she published a book of essays called Propositiones Philosophicae. This book included many of the discussions that she held as child with the guests that entered her home and also her point of veiw of edcuatioon that women should recieve. Her most important worked started when she was the age of twenty. "It is said that she started writing Analytical Institutions as a textbook for her brothers, which then grew into a more serious effort" (Cite). The book was one of the first books on finite and infinitesimal analysis. Analytical Institiutions provided a clear summary of the ?state of knowledge in mathematical analysis? (Cite). She is most remember from the curve witch of agnesi. "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 " (Cite). After the publication and success of her book she was elected to the Bologna Academy of Science. The univeristy was so impressed with her book that she was awarded a dipolma and a position as a faculty member. She worked as a faculty member until her father passed on. After his death she gave up the field of mathematics to devote her life to helping the poor and homeless. Her career in mathematics was short but the impact she has had will last a lifetime. Like the previous two women, Charolette Angas Scott was also considered a pionerr for advancement of women?s roles in the field of mathmatics. Her journey began in 1858 when she was born to the President of Of Lancashire College. Her father was an advocate for reform, especially the edcuation of women. Charolette began her education in mathematics at the age of seven. By the time she was eighteen she was awarded to a scholarship to Hitchin College. She graduated with honors by passing her Tripos exam, and placed eighth out of the college. However she was not allowed to participate in the ceremonies since she was a women. This discrimination did not drag her down instead she plowed her way to earn her doctarte in mathematics. "Both of her degrees were of the highest possible scholastic rating"(Cite). She taught for four years at Hitchin College after her graduation. She left London and headed for the United States to take a teaching position at Bryn Mawr College. At the college "her list of accomplishments include setting the admission requirements in 1885 for Bryn Mawr College in arithmetic, algebra, and plane geometry" (Cite). She also "urged the college to administer an entrance examination which was finally instituted in 1901. She established policies as Chief Examiner in 1902 and 1903 that are still in effect"(Cite). Carollette also become the author of a book entitled An Introductory Account of Certain Modern Ideas and Methods in Plane Analytical Geometry(1894) which is still used today. The American Journal of Mathematics has published over thirty of her papers, and later became the co-editor the journal. "Charlotte also served as the first woman on the first Council when the ams began in 1894. She and her first Ph.D. student were two of nine women among a 250 ams membership. She again served on the ams Council from 1899 - 1901 and in 1905 she became the vice-president" (Cite). She is credited with being the author of the first mathematical research paper written in the US to be widely recognized in Europe. After retirement she returned back to London and where she helped other women pursure careers in mathematics. In Conclusion, women have made major contributions to the field of mathematics. Their formuals might not be the most famous and widely used however these three women paved a way for many women today in the field of mathematics. Despite the low numbers of women in the math world, the women that do succeed make an impact that will not be forgotten.

Women in the Math World 8.2 of 10 on the basis of 4191 Review.