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International Women's Day

International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women's Day - 8 March 2024 - by honouring some incredible trailblazers in mathematics.

From ancient Alexandria to modern academia, these women have shattered barriers and left an indelible mark on the world of maths.

Emmy Noether (1882 – 1935): A groundbreaking mathematician whose contributions revolutionised the field of abstract algebra and theoretical physics. At the start of her career, with David Hilbert’s help she was able to work at Gottingen University despite being a woman, then a great powerhouse of mathematics and physics. She faced more discrimination when the Nazis came to power, and left for the USA where she found a warm welcome. Some would argue that she was the most important female mathematician of all time. Noether’s famous theorem, which connects symmetries in physics to conservation laws, remains a cornerstone of modern physics, highlighting her profound impact on both mathematics and science.

Mary Cartwright (1900 – 1998): A pioneering British mathematician known for her work in nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. Through her groundbreaking research, she provided key insights into the behaviour of complex systems, laying the foundation for modern chaos theory. Cartwright’s innovative contributions have had a lasting impact on mathematics and continue to inspire future generations of mathematicians. She was both the first woman to secure a first-class honours degree in mathematics at Oxford, and the first woman mathematician to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hanna Neumann (1914 – 1971): A German-born mathematician who made huge contributions to group theory and combinatorial group theory. She is one of the towering figures of 20th century algebra. As a student in Nazi Germany she agitated against the regime, and left in 1938. She worked in Britain for many years, and eventually moved to the Australian National University in Canberra. Her marriage to another eminent group theorist Bernhard Neumann produced the UKMT’s founding Chair of Trustees, the late Peter Neumann.

Hypatia (c. 360 – 415 AD): A prominent mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in ancient Alexandria, Egypt. As one of the earliest known female mathematicians, she played a significant role in preserving and advancing mathematical knowledge during her time. Hypatia’s intellectual pursuits and dedication to education made her a symbol of female empowerment and intellectual achievement in antiquity. Her murder by a mob sent shockwaves through the Roman Empire. 

Julia Robinson (1919 – 1985): An American mathematician renowned for her groundbreaking contributions to Decision Theory in Number Theory. Despite facing gender discrimination and health challenges, Robinson’s perseverance led her to become the first woman President of the American Mathematical Society and the first woman mathematician elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Her work on Hilbert’s tenth problem, which eventually led to its resolution, solidified her legacy as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century.

Today and every day, let’s celebrate the achievements and resilience of women in maths and beyond!

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International Women’s Day

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