February 11 is celebrated as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.10 This event honors women and girls who have made significant contributions to science, technology, engineering, and math. By showcasing the accomplishments of female STEM professionals, this day serves as a reminder of the potential that these women have in these professions, as well as the necessity of fostering an environment that supports their development and success. It also emphasizes the need for more access to STEM education for girls and women, and for greater gender equality within the STEM workforce.
Let’s learn about and honor three of the greatest female mathematicians in the world’s history—Ada Lovelace, Emmy Noether, and Katherine Johnson—in today’s blog.1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9
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Ada Lovelace (1815–1852)
Ada Lovelace, or Augusta Ada King, the countess of Lovelace, was born in London, the United Kingdom, on December 10, 1815.
Ada Lovelace, also known as the world’s first computer programmer, was a pioneering mathematician who was the first to recognize the potential of computers to do more than just calculate. She wrote the first algorithm for a computer, which laid the groundwork for modern computing. Lovelace’s algorithm was designed to calculate Bernoulli numbers – a sequence of rational numbers that are important in number theory.
Emmy Noether (1882–1935)
Emmy Noether was born on March 23, 1882 in Eriangen in Germany.
She made significant contributions to abstract algebra, and more specifically, the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. She is credited with discovering Noether’s Theorem, which states that for every conservation law in physics, there is a corresponding mathematical symmetry. Her theorem has been applied to a wide range of physical phenomena from the region of classical mechanics to that of the Standard Model of particle physics, and has had far-reaching implications for the study of symmetry in mathematics and physics.
Her theory was endorsed by scientists such as Leon Lederman and Christopher Hill who, in their book, “Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe” referred Noether theorem as “one of the most important mathematical theorems ever proved in guiding the development of modern physics.” 6
Do you know that Emmy’s father, Max Noether, was a mathematician too? Read this blog to know more about her.
Katherine Johnson (1918–2020)
Katherine Johnson was born on August 26, 1918, in West Virginia in the United States.
She is a mathematician and physicist who made important contributions to the U.S. space program. She calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, as well as other missions during the Space Race that included developing algorithms to calculate the path of the space shuttle and the development of the first software system designed to accurately predict the motion of a spacecraft. She was a pioneer in the field of computer science and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Do you know that Katherine Johnson was also a mentor for generations of young African American women, and her work helped open the door for greater diversity in the field of computer science? Read this blog to know more about her.
Found these women inspiring? To read more about other personalities in math and coding, visit BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog.
- Ada Lovelace – Mathematician Biography, Contributions and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.famousmathematicians.net/ada-lovelace/
- Ada Lovelace | Biography, Computer, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ada-Lovelace
- Ada LOVELACE. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://scientificwomen.net/women/lovelace-ada-59
- Emmy Noether | Biography & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emmy-Noether
- Emmy Noether: Creative Mathematical Genius. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/noether.html
- Google doodle honors mathematician Emmy Noether – CSMonitor.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/0323/Google-doodle-honors-mathematician-Emmy-Noether
- 8 Things You Should Know About Emmy Noether, Einstein’s Equal | The Saturday Evening Post. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2018/07/8-things-know-emmy-noether-einsteins-equal/
- Katherine Johnson | Biography, Education, Accomplishments, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Katherine-Johnson-mathematician
- Who Was Katherine Johnson? | NASA. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/who-was-katherine-johnson-k4
- INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE – February 11, 2023 – National Today. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://nationaltoday.com/international-day-of-women-and-girls-in-science/