Sophie Germain taught herself mathematics by candlelight, huddled in her bedclothes. Ada Byron Lovelace anticipated aspects of general-purpose digital computing by more than a century. Cora Ratto de Sadosky advanced messages of tolerance and equality while sharing her mathematical talents with generations of students.
This captivating book gives voice to women mathematicians from the late eighteenth century through to the present day. It documents the complex nature of the conditions women around the world have faced--and continue to face--while pursuing their careers in mathematics. The stories of the three women above and those of many more appear here, each one enlightening and inspiring. The earlier parts of the book provide historical context and perspective, beginning with excursions into the lives of fifteen women born before 1920. Included are histories of collective efforts to improve women's opportunities in research mathematics. In addition, a photo essay puts a human face on the subject as it illustrates women's contributions in professional associations.
More than eighty women from academe, government, and the private sector provide a rich mélange of insights and strategies for creating workable career paths while maintaining rewarding personal lives. The book discusses related social and cultural issues, and includes a summary of recent comparative data relating to women and men in mathematics and women from other sciences. First-person accounts provide explicit how-tos; many narratives demonstrate great determination and perseverance. Talented women vividly portray their pleasure in discovering new mathematics. The senior among them speak out candidly, interweaving their mathematics with autobiographical detail. At the beginning of a new century, women at all stages of their careers share their outlooks and experiences.
Clear, engaging, and meticulously researched, Complexities will inspire young women who are contemplating careers in mathematics and will speak to women in many fields of endeavor and walks of life.
"A definitive work, very carefully written, Complexities will inspire a wide range of women mathematicians and scientists for a long period of time. . . . By far this is the most important study of women in mathematics that even a giant amongst men mathematicians will find himself reading with sheer pleasure."--Current Engineering Practice
"[T]he variation in [the book's] content and writing styles . . . is exactly its strength--it is both an excellent reference for a professor wishing to provide a student with a few inspiring gems and a comprehensive overall picture of the life of women in mathematics. Its lessons are gleaned from the trials and tribulations of a specific group, but the advice is universal."--Lisa DeKeukelaere, MAA Online
"The collection documents the complex nature of the conditions women have faced while pursuing their careers in mathematics. It shows the pleasure women had in discovering new mathematics, and energy to do a good job!"--Silke Göbel, Zentralblatt
"As a female mathematics student, I found that reading this book increased my appreciation for the courage and determination of the women who entered mathematics before me, while also building my personal confidence in the prospect of finding a rewarding and fulfilling life in the mathematical community."--Gwen Spencer, Math Horizons
"The talented and amazing women featured in this book will serve as inspirational role models for all generations that follow. Complexities carefully documents the importance of such role models in inspiring women to enter mathematics. It is a lesson that can be applied beyond this field to anywhere where women are underrepresented."--Linda Babcock, author, with Sara Laschever, of Women Don't Ask (Princeton).