09 Mar Celebrating Women’s History Month and Pi Day!!
While March is National Women’s History Month, we luck out with a double celebration with PI Day coming up this week! Every year on March 14—Albert Einstein’s birthday—number lovers can raise a piece of pie to Pi (π) Day, an international celebration of one of math’s most famous constants: the irrational, never-ending number π, pronounced pi (3.14159 . . .). Check out the history of Pi Day.
Learn more about 15 Female Mathematicians Whose Accomplishments Add up? Among those highlighted:
- Hypatia (c.355–415) was the first woman known to have taught mathematics. Hypatia also wrote commentaries of her own and lectured on math, astronomy, and philosophy.
- Mary Somerville (1780–1872) was born in Scotland, and was not particularly interested in academics as a child—she only attended school for a year. However, when she encountered an algebra symbol in a puzzle at age 16, she became fascinated with math and began studying it on her own. Her parents tried to discourage her, worried that her intellectual preoccupations might drive her insane. (At the time, a popular theory held that difficult study could damage a woman’s mental health.) Physicist Sir David Brewster called her “certainly the most extraordinary woman in Europe—a mathematician of the very first rank with all the gentleness of a woman.”
- When Katherine Johnson (born 1918) wanted to study math, she faced a big obstacle. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where she lived, did not offer schooling for black students past eighth grade. So, her father drove his family 120 miles so she could attend a high school in another town, leaving Katherine and her mother there while he continued to work in White Sulphur Springs. The math prodigy graduated by the age of 14. “I went to work every day for 33 years happy,” she said. “Never did I get up and say I don’t want to go to work.” She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, and her work is also celebrated in Hidden Figures.