This International Women’s day let’s celebrate the trailblazers who shattered the glass-ceilings and are pioneers Mathematicians. While this year we celebrate the theme “Each for equal” and take a further step towards a gender-equal world, we need to realize that education is the biggest equalizer in the world.
Here we present 3 great Mathematicians who are phenomenal women in every sense of the word. They are the champions for STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Let’s read about the role models who inspire us every day.
1. Katherine Johnson
“ Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”
Katherine Johnson was one of the finest Black mathematicians of our times. Her calculations helped a man to land on the moon. She was awarded in 2015, with Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama, stating, “Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”
At NASA she worked for the Mercury program, Apollo 11 mission, and even the space shuttle programs. She was a human-computer at her workplace. It is famously said that she was asked by John Glenn, the astronaut, to double-check the calculations for his first orbit around the Earth.
The calculations were previously calculated by the computer and Glenn preferred Katherine over it.
In the Fayetteville Observer interview, Katherine Johnson had said, “The guys all had graduate degrees in mathematics; they had forgotten all the geometry they ever knew. I still remembered mine.”
Today we celebrate a wonderful Mathematician who applied her mathematical talents with precision and transcended the world of Mathematics to touch not only the stars but our very lives.
2) Mary Jackson
“I plan on being an engineer at NASA…I have no choice but to be the first.”
(lines uttered by Mary Jackson’s character in the movie Hidden Figures)
Mary Jackson, the first female Black engineer at NASA, earned a dual degree in Physical Sciences and Maths at Hampton Institute. She even worked as a Maths teacher for a while.
In her early years, she worked as a research mathematician and that too at a segregated West Computing section. Furthermore, she was a “human computer” a title conferred on special individuals with high mathematical acumen and with the ability to perform calculations at the same level as computers. She even fought a legal battle to join an all-white educational institution.
All her life she worked for equal opportunity programs and even took a demotion in Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager. This way she was able to promote other female mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.
Mary Jackson was truly a luminary who championed the Mathematical field and is a role model for girls across the world planning to pursue STEM education.
3) Karen Uhlenbeck
“As a child I read a lot, and I read everything. I’d go to the library and then stay up all night reading. I used to read under the desk in school. I read all of the books on science in the library and was frustrated when there was nothing left to read.”
Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck of the University of Texas at Austin is the greatest Mathematical mind in the world today. She is the first woman to be awarded with Abel prize in Mathematics (the equivalent of Nobel Prize).
Her work has been acknowledged and the Abel Laureate has been recognized “for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory, and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.”
A strong believer in gender equality in Maths and Science, she stated in an interview & quote: ” Whenever I get a free week I start doing mathematics, I can’t believe how much fun it is.”
Today, technology has changed the world for all of us. More and more women are taking charge of their education and careers. Any girl child has the power of taking charge of their studies by simply opting for something as simple as affordable online tutoring. For a young child hoping to pursue a career in Maths and Science, she has the option of getting connected with an online Maths tutor or online science tutor.
So don’t wait for anyone and begin upgrading by investing in your education. The purpose of life is to live the best version of ourselves and you need to find out as these women did in their lifetime. Let’s look at these amazing women Mathematicians and get inspired and reach out to our dreams.