Women in Mathematics
Every human is created with a gift of some sort. Whether it is an athletic ability, a wonderful singing voice, or an ability to relate to other individuals, every one has a special gifting. For many women in history, their ability was deciphering and understanding the intricacies of math. Although various cultures discouraged women mathematicians, these women were able to re-define the standards for women in this field of study. Hypatia of Alexandria was born in Roman Egypt and was the daughter of a teacher of mathematics, Theon of Alexandria. Hypatia studied with her father as well as with many other mathematicians. When she was older, she taught at the Neoplatonist school of philosophy. She wrote on mathematics, philosophy, as well as anatomy. Her studies covered the motion of the planets, conic sections, and number theory, which is “one of the oldest branches of pure mathematics, and one of the largest. It concerns questions about numbers, typically meaning whole numbers as well as rational numbers. Although little information about Hypatia survives, it has been discovered that she was a very popular lecturer that drew students from various locations. She is known for her invention of the plane astrolabe, which is an elaborate inclinometer with the ability to locate and predict the locations of the sun, moon, planets, and stars and the graduated brass hydrometer which was used to determine the relative density or specific gravity of liquids. Hypatia's teachings were not accepted by the Christian bishop, Cyril due to her pagan beliefs. His public dislike towards her is said to have been the cause of the attack by a mob that lead to her death. Most of her work was destroyed when the library of Alexandria was burned by the Arab conquerors, however, her studies have been discovered through the work of others who quoted her as well as through letters. I believe Hypatia was one of the first inspirational women mathematicians. Despite the danger she knew she was facing, she chose to do what she enjoyed. Elena Cornaro Piscopia was born in 1646 in Venice into the family of a public official. Her father provided the means of education to his children. Elena was recognized as a child prodigy when she was seven years old by a parish priest. She then began to study theology, mathematics, Latin, Greek, and music. Clerics, royals, and scientists came to Venice to speak with her due to the widespread attraction of her achievements. As she grew older, Elena was the first woman to apply in theology at a university in Italy. She was also the first woman to earn a doctoral degree. After receiving her master's and doctorate degrees in philosophy, she went on to become a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Padua until her death in 1684. Although she is not famous for discovering any particular math problem, she was very influential in her time and inspired many other women to pursue mathematics. Maria Agnesi was born in Italy in 1718 and was the daughter of Pietro Agnesi, a wealthy nobleman and professor of mathematics. Maria, like Elena, was recognized as a child prodigy and was taught five languages. Her father invited his colleagues over for Maria to present speeches to. By the age of 13 Maria was able to debate in French, Spanish, and Latin. Although Maria did not enjoy giving the speeches, she continued until the age of twenty. That year, Maria made a compilation of the speeches she had given over the years and published them in Latin. The title of the compilations in English is “Philosophical Propositions.” The topics included celestial mechanics, which refers to the branch of astronomy that deals with the motions of celestial objects and applies to the field of physics, Isaac Newton's Gravitation Theory that states that any two objects in the universe exert gravitational attraction on each other, and elasticity. Maria's father married twice after the death of her mother, causing her to be the eldest of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document