Pure Math Grad Colloquium

Monday, March 6, 2023 1:30 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Amanda Petcu, Department of Pure Mathematics, University of Waterloo

"A History of Women in Math"

"How can I describe my astonishment and admiration on seeing my esteemed correspondent M. Le Blanc metamorphosed into this celebrated person" is what Gauss wrote to Sophie Germain in 1807 after she had disclosed to him her true identity: a woman. Sophie, like many other women, feared the ridicule attached to being a female scientist so for a period of time she disguised herself as a man in order to be taken seriously. The story of women fighting to be heard and respected is a tale as old as time and is certainly not uncommon in the field of mathematics. Many female mathematicians such as Sofia Kovalevskaya, Emmy Noether, and Ada Lovelace overcame many obstacles to be able to study mathematics. Some of them fought family members, husbands, and even the universities themselves to be allowed into the world of mathematics at a time when women were not even permitted to travel alone. Despite these many obstacles, the work these women did will continue to live on throughout history long after their names are forgotten. The purpose of this talk is to remind ourselves of these powerful women and to never forget their names and their inspiring stories. For it is these women that blazed the path for women like Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman to win the Abel prize, and Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win a Fields medal. From Hypatia in 400 AD to Maryna Viazovska in 2022, this talk will explore just a handful of amazing women who, despite numerous obstacles, thrived and made a large impact on mathematics.

MC 5501