Complexities: Women in Mathematics

ISBN 13: 9780691114620

Complexities: Women in Mathematics

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9780691114620: Complexities: Women in Mathematics
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Sophie Germain taught herself mathematics by candlelight, huddled in her bedclothes. Ada Byron Lovelace anticipated aspects of general-purpose digital computing by more than a century. Cora Ratto de Sadosky advanced messages of tolerance and equality while sharing her mathematical talents with generations of students.


This captivating book gives voice to women mathematicians from the late eighteenth century through to the present day. It documents the complex nature of the conditions women around the world have faced--and continue to face--while pursuing their careers in mathematics. The stories of the three women above and those of many more appear here, each one enlightening and inspiring. The earlier parts of the book provide historical context and perspective, beginning with excursions into the lives of fifteen women born before 1920. Included are histories of collective efforts to improve women's opportunities in research mathematics. In addition, a photo essay puts a human face on the subject as it illustrates women's contributions in professional associations.


More than eighty women from academe, government, and the private sector provide a rich mélange of insights and strategies for creating workable career paths while maintaining rewarding personal lives. The book discusses related social and cultural issues, and includes a summary of recent comparative data relating to women and men in mathematics and women from other sciences. First-person accounts provide explicit how-tos; many narratives demonstrate great determination and perseverance. Talented women vividly portray their pleasure in discovering new mathematics. The senior among them speak out candidly, interweaving their mathematics with autobiographical detail. At the beginning of a new century, women at all stages of their careers share their outlooks and experiences.


Clear, engaging, and meticulously researched, Complexities will inspire young women who are contemplating careers in mathematics and will speak to women in many fields of endeavor and walks of life.

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From the Back Cover:

"The talented and amazing women featured in this book will serve as inspirational role models for all generations that follow. Complexities carefully documents the importance of such role models in inspiring women to enter mathematics. It is a lesson that can be applied beyond this field to anywhere where women are underrepresented."--Linda Babcock, author, with Sara Laschever, of Women Don't Ask (Princeton).

"A provocative and informative inside view of what it is like to be both a mathematician and a woman. The belief that mathematics is solely a male preserve is fast disappearing, and Complexities will speed it on its way."--Ian Stewart, Mathematics Awareness Centre, University of Warwick

"This book contains a wealth of inspiration for women in the mathematical sciences, with real life advice on how to weather the tough times, find joy in the good times, and at the same time experience excitement and love for the subject. For young women seeking their paths in this field, the personal stories provide valuable mentorship. Even for those of us who have a parent as mentor, this collection provides essential insight into a variety of experiences and career paths."--Alison Marsden, Stanford University and Jerry Marsden, California Institute of Technology

"This astounding book provides a wealth of important information on women in mathematics over the ages, exploring how they entered the field, what excited them about it in their youth, what excites them now, and the many ways these women have advanced the frontiers of mathematics, or have used mathematics to the benefit of society. Although not a mathematician myself, I have known many of the women mathematicians in this book and have shared with them my experiences as a physicist. How wonderful that this is all gathered in one volume of easy reading."--Mildred Dresselhaus, MIT

About the Author:

Bettye Anne Case is Olga Larson Professor of Mathematics at Florida State University. Anne M. Leggett is Associate Professor of Mathematics at Loyola University, Chicago.

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ISBN 10:  0691171092 ISBN 13:  9780691171098
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2016
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