Mar 03, 2024

Math Monday: Highlighting Women Mathematicians in the Classroom

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


Find these profiles - and 39 more! - in the Math in Action slide deck!


Dr. Maryna Viazovska

Dr. Viazovska is a professor of mathematics at EPFL in Switzerland. She was awarded the Fields Medal in 2022 for her proof solving the sphere packing problem. She is the second woman ever to receive the Fields Medal, after Maryam Mirzakhani in 2014. (from her profile in Quanta)


Watch this video from the Simons Foundation to learn more!

Note: This is a shortened version of the video. You may choose to watch the full video, which includes a deeper exploration of the impact of the war in Ukraine. 


Possible Questions:

  • Dr. Viazovska says “Whenever we have something good in our life, we often take that for granted” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • In your own words, describe the sphere packing problem.
  • How long did it take Dr. Viazovska to develop her formula for the sphere packing problem?
  • How did teaching help Dr. Viazovska?


Dr. Talithia Williams

Dr. Talithia Williams a statistician and mathematician at Harvey Mudd College who cohosts the PBS series NOVA Wonders. She is famous for her popular TED Talk, "Own Your Body's Data" and for publishing the book Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics. (from her website)


Watch this video “Meet Talithia Williams” from NOVA to learn more!


Possible Questions:

  • What experiences drew Dr. Williams towards mathematics?
  • Dr. Williams describes being inspired by nature and by scientific shows. What sparks your curiosity or imagination?


Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Marks Ayrton was a British mathematician, electrical engineer, and inventor. Her contributions included improving the safety and efficacy of early electrical lights and designing a fan to clear poisonous gases from trenches in World War I. She was also an active suffragette who advocated for the rights of women.


Read this profile from Lemelson-MIT or watch this video from IET to learn more!



Possible Questions:

  • How did gendered domestic responsibilities impact Ayrton throughout her life?
  • In what ways was Ayrton involved in politics?
  • Ayrton continued to seek out education throughout her life. What challenges did she face while doing so?
  • What was one impact of one of Ayrton’s inventions?


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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