Today is International Women’s Day, so we’ve taken a moment to think about the woman mathematicians in our lives.
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Today’s Google doodle (for those not in the know, the Google homepage alters its header based on the date, and on dates of special nerdy significance, they theme them around relevant birthdays/anniversaries) is about Maria Gaetana Agnesi, a female mathematician. Agnesi was born on 16th May 1718, making today her 296th birthday. This means you have four years to prepare for her 300th birthday bash, which I hear is going to go off big style.
Feminist website Hello Ladies has posted an infographic, from EngineeringDegree.net, discussing the discrepancy in achievement between men and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. It’s beautifully presented, and compares the early attainment of boys and girls (higher for girls) and then the subsequent decline in both confidence and choosing STEM subjects. Draw your own conclusions about causality. The list of percentages of people of each gender in various STEM subjects doesn’t include maths, but does show which subjects feel the lack of women more extremely (in particular, engineering subjects fare worse than sciences).
A biography of Emmy Noether has been published in the New York Times.
Albert Einstein called her the most “significant” and “creative” female mathematician of all time, and others of her contemporaries were inclined to drop the modification by sex. She invented a theorem that united with magisterial concision two conceptual pillars of physics: symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation. Some consider Noether’s theorem, as it is now called, as important as Einstein’s theory of relativity; it undergirds much of today’s vanguard research in physics, including the hunt for the almighty Higgs boson. Yet Noether herself remains utterly unknown, not only to the general public, but to many members of the scientific community as well.