On this page you will find some general sources for biographies of women mathematicians, and also some biographies of individuals, in particular a selection of profiles of some female mathematicians from Latin America. Please let us know if you are aware of other good sources which might be included.
Here is a geographic index (by location of birth).
The website also has a wonderful bibliography section which currently lists over 450 articles and books about women in mathematics, many of them biographies of individual women.
This webpage has been created by Larry Riddle of the college.
Article entitled “Some women from the history of mathematics” (Portuguese)
A talk by Caroline Series (1996) about the lives of some British women mathematicians.
An exhibition of paintings about women scientists. The source of inspiration was the scientific theme each of these women worked on. They are represented on 12 canvas 1x1m together with a brief explanation about the subject and the scientist in question. See also here.
This archive contains details of the approximately 2500 women who graduated in mathematics from universities in Britain and Ireland before 1940. It is also part of the St Andrews site.
This list is part of the St Andrews University History of Maths website. Pages created by John O’Connor and Edmund F Robertson of University of St Andrews (Scotland) Mathematics Department.
“The general public has been made aware of the research field of “chaos” by the book of that title by James Gleick. This paper will focus on the achievements of Sonya Kovalevskaya, Mary Cartwright, and Mary Tsingou, whose pioneer works were not mentioned in Gleick’s book.”
This is a wide-ranging library of books written by and about women who studied or worked in mathematical subjects in the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth century, or earlier. It is held in the library of the London Mathematical Society. It is named in honour of Philippa Fawcett, who in 1890 came top in the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge. Since women could not be ranked alongside men, Fawcett was described as ‘above the Senior Wrangler’.
This is another good source of information, if rather random in the women who are featured.
Edited by Louise S. Grinstein and Paul J. Campbell
Greenwood press, 1987
“This collection includes biographic sketches and bibliographies of 43 women mathematicians ranging from Hypatia (370-415) to Grace Murray Hopper (1906-). ….A major contribution to the history of mathematics and of women.”
This e-audio- book contains accounts of the lives of many female scientists.
Presented by the San Diego Supercomputer (1997). A pdf version is available through the link. This book contains an excellent biobliography for further reading.
The inspiring stories of prominent women scientists from across the Americas. A publication of IANAS, the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (2013).
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was the only legitimate daughterof the poet Lord Byron. She is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often described as the world’s first computer programmer. There are several biographies of Ada, among them: Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron’s Legitimate Daughter by Doris Langley Moore (John Murray 1977); The calculating passion of Ada Byron‘ by Joan Baum (Shoe String Press Inc 1986); Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers by Betty A. Toole (Strawberry Press 1998); ; The Bride of Science by Benjamin Woolley (McGraw Hill, 2002). Many articles and links about Ada can be found here.
Sofia Kovalevskaia was the first major Russian female mathematician, responsible for important original contributions to analysis, differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. She was also one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor. There are a number of biographies of Sofia: especially recommended are her autobiographical memoir A Russian childhood and the biography A Convergence of Lives by Ann Hibner Koblitz. Sofia also wrote poetry, plays and articles, among them a fascinating account of her meetings with George Eliot on visits to London which you can find in English translation here.
Emmy Noether has often been described as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, she revolutionized the theories of rings,fields, and algebras. Numerous accounts of her life are to be found on the internet.
Her biography Emmy Noether 1882-1935 by Auguste Dick, first published 1982, has recently been republished Birkhauser 2012.
Mary Somerville was a renown Scottish mathematician and scientist. Self taught, her name was established by her translation and commentary on Laplace's Méchanique Céleste. Her scientific contributions were doubly significant: not only was she a woman working within a predominantly male domain, but modern science itself was a fledgling field struggling to claim a place in Victorian culture. She met with many of the leading scientists and other figures of the period and wrote books presenting the new scientific discoveries to the general public. She gave mathematical lessons to Ada Lovelace. Somerville College, Oxford is named in her honour; the college is currently preparing an online catalogue of her papers.
This link gives various sources. Especially recommended is her delightful and fascintaing autobiographical memoir Personal Recollections, from Early Life to Old Age edited by her daughter, Martha Somerville and recently reprinted. Mary Somerville also features in the recent film Mr Turner.
Cora Sadosky, daughter of Cora Ratto de Sadosky, was born in Buenos Aires. Her father, Manuel Sadosky, was a founding director of the Computer Science Center at the university. Cora received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1965. She served as President of AWM 1993-1995.
Vera received her PhD in Mathematics in 1958 at Buenos Aires University (UBA), where she was awarded the emeritus professor status in 2010. Vera directs the Mathematics and Design Lab and Center and is Logomyd President of the International Society of Mathematics and Design. This interdisciplinary Society provides academic identity to researchers working in mathematics and design.
Keti Tenenblat was born in 1944 in Turkey, where she attended her first six elementary school years at an Italian school. In 1957, her family emigrated to Brazil. She had a distinguished career as a mathematician working in differential geometry in Brazil, and then became emeritus professor at the University of Brasilia.
Keti Tenenblat was the first woman to be president of the Brazilian Mathematical Society and became the first female member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 1991. A tribute to K. Tenenblat written by her advisor, M. do Carmo, can be found here.
Lilliam was born in Cuba, where she received her PhD in Physics and Mathematics in 1989. Her area of expertise is in Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations with applications in Engineering and Physics. She has advised more than 20 female PhD students in Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.
In 1998 she earned the National Prize for the Best Scientific Book written in Cuba entitled “Métodos Numéricos del Análisis Matemático”. She is a great promoter of gender discussions in Science and Technology and has written many papers on the subject, among which the 2010 book entitled “To be a woman in science or to die trying”.
She is a Merit Member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, where she is the head of the Commission of Women in Sciences and of the Group of Promotion of Sciences.
Since 2008 she has been a member of the World Academy of Science for the developing world,(TWAS) and member of the Election Committee for Mathematics. She is member of the ICSU-Regional Scientific Commitee for Latin America and the Caribbean where she participates actively in the Program for Strengthening of Mathematics Education in the region. She is also Co-chair of the IANAS Program of Women in Science. IANAS is a Network of the Academies of Sciences in the Americas.
Y. Garcia Ramos was the first woman to obtain a PhD degree from UNI-IMCA (Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería – Insituto de Matemática y Ciencias Afines) in Lima. She works in applied mathematics and mathematical economics.
Gladys Ortiz Granada is professor at UNA, the National University of Asunción in Paraguay. Gladys organized the first Paraguayan Congress in Pure and Applied Mathematics in 2011, see also here.
Gladys is the local coordinator of a new master program on Applied Mathematics at her University. This program is part of the activities led by the so-called Montevideo group, gathering Universities from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
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