Feb 26, 2023

Math Monday: Highlighting Women Mathematicians in the Classroom

This Wednesday marks the start of Women’s History Month. Get ready to celebrate with these profiles of amazing women mathematicians. 


Karlie Noon

Karlie Noon is a Gamilaroi astronomer, astrophysicist and science communicator. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Australian National University. Noon is the co-author of Astronomy: Sky Country, a book exploring Indigenous Australians’ culture and expertise related to the land and sky. 

Watch this 5-minute video or read this read this profile from Australia’s SBS.



Possible discussion questions:

  • What factors influenced Noon’s decision to go into mathematics?
  • What lessons does Noon say she learned from her Aunty?
  • What barriers did Noon face to becoming a mathematician?
  • In what ways does Noon’s identity as Gamilaroi (an Indigenous nation in Australia) intersect with her study of mathematics?


Dr. Gladys West

Dr. Gladys West is a mathematician whose work modeling the Earth was instrumental to the development of the GPS systems we still use today. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mathematics, as well as a master’s degree and PhD in public administration.

Watch this 3-minute video or read this profile from Popular Science. 



Possible discussion questions:

  • What technological achievement comes from Dr. West’s work?
  • In what ways did systemic racism impact Dr. West’s education or career?
  • Dr. West describes herself at the end of the video by saying “usually, I had a mind of my own. I tend to think for myself.” How might that perspective have helped Dr. West in her career?
  • What factors motivated Dr. West to pursue a career in mathematics?


Dr. Emily Riehl

Dr. Emily Riehl is a math professor at Johns Hopkins University working on higher category theory and homotopy type theory. She has written three textbooks, co-hosts a mathematics blog, and was a founding board member of Spectra: The Association for LGBT Mathematicians.

Watch this 3-minute interview or watch Dr. Riehl explain infinity in 5 levels of difficulty in a series from WIRED. 



Possible discussion questions:

  • Dr. Riehl references Bill Thurston’s essay. What are the two ways she says progress is made in mathematics?
  • How does Dr. Riehl relate her interest in the viola and in category theory?
  • Dr. Riehl talks about the importance of feeling welcome in math spaces. What do you think would make you feel more welcome in a math classroom? Less welcome?


Additional Resources

Check out these resources highlighting women mathematicians. 

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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