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A History of Women in Mathematics (Hardback)

Exploring the Trailblazers of STEM

Ancient History P&S History > By Century > 21st Century P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval History P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Dale DeBakcsy
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 16 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399056519
Published: 20th October 2023



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From ancient Greece to medieval Baghdad, from Revolutionary France to China's Qing Dynasty, women mathematicians have worked alongside men to a degree that was denied them in most other fields of scientific inquiry. Locked out of biological studies first by restrictions on their freedom of travel and later because of concerns that they would be corrupted by evolutionary thought, effectively barred from experimental physics for centuries through lack of access to specialized equipment, and inconsistently permitted a medical education, women have, for three thousand years and more, been a steady presence during every great mathematical era.

They have contributed to the fundamentals of geometry and the expansion of algebra from the earliest days of those disciplines, and stepped in, on multiple occasions, to save the mathematical traditions of their home countries from death by ossification. They have guided us through the twisted realms of non-Euclidean space, gifted us the mathematical models we need to understand the behavior of the metals of our buildings and the soils we construct them upon, and given us an at times chilling view into the fates of super-massive systems over deep time.

A History of Women in Mathematics, the first comprehensive account of women's role in mathematics in 35 years, tells the stories of over a hundred women, some of whom had to go to the lengths of lying about their gender in correspondence, or secrete themselves behind screens during lectures to access the mathematical resources that their male counterparts took for granted, but many of whom had positions of academic honor and international prestige that women in other fields would have to wait centuries to attain. From Theano of Croton to Rachel Riley, here are the tales of the women who have illuminated and demystified the profound structures upon which our reality is built, with stones of number and mortar of imagination.

An interesting bit of information about women and math. Some things I never learned in school. Great for any classroom.

NetGalley, Aubrey Kerr

A History of Women in Mathematics is a concise, well written, overview of women in mathematics over three millennia written and curated by Dale Debakcsy.

The book is arranged in 30 biography chapters, in chronological order, from Theano of Croton (and the Pythagoreans) to, quite poignantly, Maryam Mirzakhani. Each subject is introduced in historical context in surprisingly accessible terms. The author considers them as historical characters and, obviously, scientists, but also renders them realistically. The language is understandable and doesn't require an academic background to read and assimilate the facts of their lives. The mathematics is very briefly touched on but it's not a mathematics text and doesn't require relevant formal scientific background to understand.

There's a surprising amount of warmth and humour in the biographies. Even the ancient subjects with scant historical proof are rendered three-dimensionally and engagingly.

Four stars. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, or gift giving. The bibliography is full of good resources and links for further reading. There's also an appendix with a number of archival photos of the subjects which add some context and interest.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

This untold history spanning three millennia chronicles overlooked women who expanded mathematical knowledge despite limited opportunities. Discover more than one hundred stories of women who overcame obstacles to achieve renown.

This is an interesting and human account of the lives of these notable women. It can be read cover-to-cover or used as a reference book.

NetGalley, Andrea Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For anyone who says women aren't good at math, they need to pull their head out of the dark ages AND read this book ASAP.

Covering the contributions women made to mathematics from Ancient Greece to present day, this book is a who's who of major math megastars who happened to not be men.

The author DeBakcsy goes into great detail about each woman's works. It's told in a fun, casual voice that's not only historically informative. It's encouraging to every numbers loving girl out there. It shows how far women have come and how they've given back to society in ways that weren't noticed and definitely not appreciated.

Great for anyone who loves STEM history or just wants to learn about some amazing women in history.

NetGalley, Patricia W. Fischer

Each short chapter introduces us to women who over the past two millennia have contributed to the study of the subject. Each a trailblazer. At the end of each chapter is information on further reading on the individual. The final chapter is also a run through of other notable women in this field. A well put together and highly informative book.

NetGalley, Carol Standish-Leigh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A History of Women in Mathematics by Dale DeBakcsy offers a compelling look into the often-overlooked contributions of women to mathematics. Organized into 30 chapters, it spans centuries, from Theano of Croton to modern mathematicians like Maryam Mirzakhani. The book skillfully blends history, mathematics, and personal narratives, making it accessible to all readers. Each chapter ends with valuable references for further study. This scholarly work challenges gender stereotypes and underscores the pivotal role women played in shaping mathematics. "A History of Women in Mathematics" is an enlightening and inspiring read that celebrates the resilience and achievements of these remarkable women.

NetGalley, Jimmy Tele

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dale DeBakcsy does a great job in keeping this book engaging and informative. I was never bored when reading this and glad there were some women that I had never heard of.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

About Dale DeBakcsy

Dale DeBakcsy has written the popular bi-weekly Women In Science column at Women You Should Know (www.womenyoushouldknow.net) since 2014, creating a freely accessible archive of in-depth and rigorously researched articles detailing the history of women professionals in all branches of STEM. For three years, he was the author and illustrator for the History of Humanism series at New Humanist, and is a contributing author to the Great Minds column at Free Inquiry Magazine. His essays have appeared in Philosophy NowThe FreethinkerSkeptical Inquirer Magazine, American Atheist Magazine, The Humanist, and Free Inquiry Magazine. From 2007 until 2018, he (under the incredibly classy pseudonym Count Dolby von Luckner) and Geoffrey Schaeffer co-wrote the historical satire webcomic Frederick the Great: A Most Lamentable Comedy Breaching Space and Time, and in 2016 he published The Cartoon History of Humanism at The Humanist Press. By day, he is an instructor in world history, mathematics, and science in the beautiful California Bay Area. By night, he is… very tired. He is the proud father of two girls, two cats, and four chickens. This is his first book for Pen and Sword Books.

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