This must surely be the exclusion of women from maths for most of our history, due to mathematics (and academia in general) being seen as an unsuitable activity or as simply “too hard” for women. As we see the female:male ratio among the best brains of mathematics now approaching 1:1, one wonders how much more advanced our knowledge could now be had society not made the breathtaking blunder of excluding 50% of our species for so many centuries.
I had thought of writing a “top 10 women in maths” at this point. But to restrict the list to ten would be an insult to the legions of women who enrich and further our mathematical knowledge around the globe every day; and a complete list of the women who have inspired and continue to inspire my own personal mathematical journey would fill too many pages. So instead, please allow me to recommend to you:
HIDDEN FIGURES: this cleverly named 2016 film features NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose extraordinary calculating skills were crucial in the success of the first US manned space flights in the 1960’s. The film explores not only her mathematical work, but also allows us a glimpse into the racial and gender discrimination she was forced to endure. Nominated for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy awards – so worth 2 hours of your time for any number of reasons!