Mar 06, 2022

Math Monday: Highlighting Women Mathematicians in the Classroom

This Math Monday, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month with profiles of three amazing women mathematicians that you can bring into your classroom.


Find these profiles - and 30 more! - in the Math in Action slide deck!


Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani was a highly-decorated mathematician who believed “you have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math”. She won the Fields Medal in 2014 for her exceptional contributions to the study of the dynamics and geometry of mathematical objects called Riemann surfaces.

Watch a short documentary trailer about Maryam Mirzakhani.

Discussion Questions:

  • How was Mirzakhani an inspiration for others?
  • What was Mirzakhani’s major mathematical achievement?
  • Why was Mirzakhani’s theorem significant for the field of mathematics?
  • How would you describe Mirzakhani’s approach to mathematics?


Ada Lovelace 

Ada Lovelace is famous for being the first computer programmer. In the 1840s, she wrote the first computer algorithm and recognized the potential application of computing beyond calculation. How was this revolutionary mathematician a programmer before the computer even existed? 

Watch a 3-minute biography to find out!

Discussion Questions:

  • What was Lovelace’s major mathematical contribution? Why was it significant?
  • What challenges did Lovelace face because of her gender?
  • In what ways was Lovelace a tech visionary?


Fern Hunt

Fern Hunt is a mathematician who works at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She won the Arthur S. Flemming Award in 2000 for her contributions to “probability and stochastic modeling, mathematical biology, computational geometry, nonlinear dynamics, computer graphics, and parallel computing”. She’s also earned recognition for her leadership and mentorship in mathematics.

Read a short profile and watch a 3-minute interview with Fern Hunt on the beauty of mathematics.

Discussion Questions

  • How does Fern Hunt describe being shaped by her social and political context?
  • What examples does Fern Hunt give of beauty in mathematics?
  • What beautiful patterns have you noticed in your life (related to mathematics)? This might include art, architecture, nature, music, patterns, puzzles, or more!
  • Do you think math is beautiful? Why or why not?
  • Which teachers have made you feel the excitement about learning that Hunt is describing? What made you feel that way?


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About the Author

Kathryn Dawson

Kathryn (she/her) is excited to join the NGPF team after 9 years of experience in education as a mentor, tutor, and special education teacher. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in policy analysis and management and has a master's degree in education from Brooklyn College. Kathryn is looking forward to bringing her passion for accessibility and educational justice into curriculum design at NGPF. During her free time, Kathryn loves embarking on cooking projects, walking around her Seattle neighborhood with her partner and dog, or lounging in a hammock with a book.

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