What is the Mathematicians Project?
The Short Version:
- We as math teachers tend to only talk about white male mathematicians.
- Most of my students don’t look like that, and thus, they have few mathematical role models they can identify with.
- Take 10-15 minutes a week to research (read Wikipedia, that’s all you need) a not-old-dead-white-dude mathematician, and then take 5 minutes in class to tell your students about them. Include a picture. It’s worth it, I swear.
If you’re in, go ahead and scroll down for names of mathematicians and links or feel free to use this searchable spreadsheet, which is periodically updated.
I’ve blogged at MTMS about this project in far more detail than I have here. Check out those four posts below.
For the super excited, you can read the paper I wrote about the project below.
Please post in the comments what is most helpful. Nothing would make me happier than to hear that others have adopted this project and have improved on it. Some people already have! Below the list are additional links of websites and projects that people have done.
Also share any mathematician you think I should feature here and I will update. Pester me if I’m taking too long or seem to have forgotten.
[UPDATE: It has been pointed out that several of the “traditional” mathematicians we talk about were likely not, in fact, white. Euclid, Eratosthenes, & Pythagoras have all been mentioned to me as likely not having been white. I think this conversation with students can be productive. I’ve certainly talked to students about it, and about why the images we see of these men are of traditionally looking white men. If you have one like it with your class, I would be curious to hear how it went.]
A List of Not White Men Mathematicians with Links
Men (alphabetical by last name)
Artur Avila (Brazilian) b. 1979
David Blackwell (African American) 1919-2010
Jose Adem Chain (Mexican) b. 1921
Ngô Bào Châu (Vietnamese) b. 1972
Shiing Shen Chern (Chinese) 1911 – 2004
Elbert Frank Cox (African American) 1895-1969
Ismail Mustafa al-Faliki (Egyptian) 1825-1901 Very little info here. I must have gotten him from a book. I’ll let you know what that is if/when I find it again.
Heisuke Hironaka (Japanese) b. 1931
Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (Persian) c. 780-c.850
Kunihiko Kodaira (Japanese) 1915-1997
Victor Neumann-Lara (Mexican) 1933-2004
Robert Eugene Megginson (Native American) b. 1948
Kelly Miller (African-American) 1863-1939
Herman Mena (Ecuadorian)
Shigefumi Mori (Japanese) b. 1951
Srinivasa Ramanujan (Indian) 1887-1920
Diego Rodriguez (Mexcian) 1569-1668
Thomas F Storer (Native American) 1938-2006
Richard Tapia (Chicano) b. 1939
Terence Tao (Chinese Australian) b. 1975
John Urschel (African-American) b.1991
Scott Williams (African American) b. 1943
Wen Tsun Wu (Chinese) b. 1919
Shing-Tung Yau (Chinese) b. 1949
Women (alphabetical by last name)
This book is a great resource for many of these women.
Maria Chudnovsky b. 1977
Fan Chung (Taiwanese-American) b. 1949
Joan Clarke (1917-1996)
Sue Finley (American) modern
Hannah Fry (English) modern
Courtney Gibbons (American) modern
Concha Gomez (Cuban American) modern
Margaret Hamilton (American) b. 1936
Euphemia Lofton Hayes (African-American) 1890-1980
Hypatia (Greek) c. 350-415
Grace Hopper (American) 1906-1992
Mary Jackson (African American) 1921-2005
Mae Jemison (African American)
Katherine Johnson (Coleman) (African American) b. 1918
Nalini Joshi (Indian-Burmese-Australian)
Frances Kirwan (British) b. 1959
Sofia Kovalevskaya (Russian) 1850-1891
Isabella Laba (Polish) b. 1966
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Vivenne Malone-Mayes (African-American) 1932-1995
Emmy Noether (German) 1882-1935
Hee Oh (S. Korean) b. 1969
Marian Pour-El (American) 1928-2009
Marjorie Rice (American) b. 1975
Sally Ride (American) b.
Doris Schattschneider (American) b. 1939
Marjorie Senechal (American) b. 1939
Caroline Series (English) b. 1951
Mary Somerville (Scottish) 1780-1872
Jean Springer (Jamaican) b. 1939
Alicia Boole Stott (Irish-English) 1860-1940
Daina Taimina (Latvian) b. 1954
Karen Uhlenbeck (American) b. 1942
Dorothy Vaughn (African American) 1910-2008
Adrian Scott Duane modern
FYI, I should say that I cringed to use the labels “Men” and “Women” because of a former student who has graciously educated me more about transgender and non-binary people, but I recognize that those labels are still helpful as categories.
General Resources for Researching Mathematicians
Mathematicians of the African Diaspora (h/t Keith Devlin)
Mathematicians Born/Died on this Day This has a huge number of mathematicians. You’ll have to seek a bit for the non-white-male ones, but you can look at the Birthplace Index to help out. (h/t Andrew Thomas)
Math History Course Notes courtesy of commenter below. Includes Sophie Germain.
Awesome Things Great Teachers Have Done:
I have no good visuals for this project. The best I’ve got is this map that 1) Is scaled to accurately represent area 2) Gets pins for the location of each mathematician we introduce to class.
I also have added a Hidden Figures poster with tags on each of the women.
Each of which I like and students enjoy. But Brian (on twitter @_b_p and blogging at https://lazyocho.com/) has made some excellent printable posters to put up and he’s been kind enough to share them here! What a nice guy!