## Women in maths by Emily Mahon
Not being from a mathematical background I’ve never calculated my outfits or beauty regime, nor am I aware of a ‘maths feature’ in Vogue. Beauty and Maths? How absurd, yet it only takes a few minutes and the realisation that Maths does indeed contribute to beautiful things; for instance Fashion designers require precise measurements, knowledge of patterns. They require an understanding of mathematical laws and visual symmetry.
Seeing as women are usually the catalyst for the topic of beauty, I set off to search for female influence in the Maths game. Women have played a major contribution to the study of Mathematics; one of the most influential contributors to early Greek mathematics was female mathematician Hepitita whose inventions included the astrolabe for measuring the positions of stars and planets. You may also be surprised to find out that Florence Nightingale was an advanced mathematician. Our contemporary counterpart is Greenwich University lecturer Noel-Ann Bradshaw. We caught up with her to talk about women in the industry and as she sits elegantly showing off her very appropriate Pi studs musing: “There’s certainly many a quote about beauty in maths, my favourite is by ex-professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, G H Hardy: “The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics.” |
Maths is a predominantly male scene as Noel Ann explains: “It is certainly noticeable when attending Maths conferences, as there are only a few women in a room full of men, but I have never experienced any hindrance in studying mathematics because of my gender.” Noel-Ann explains before she became a mathematician she was a mum and a caterer . “I left school without any intentions of ever pursuing Maths. I’d always loved maths but my teachers told me I wasn’t much good at it and I was pushed into catering instead. It wasn’t until adulthood that I decided Maths was my passion and it was something I really had to try to learn again.” Noel-Ann, now a mother of four gained a maths degree at Greenwich University and now lectures there. “I was so lucky to have the chance to study maths again, as today I doubt such an opportunity would come up.” Noel Ann counts Mathematician Évariste Galois as inspiration but explains: “It’s a strange choice as he was killed when he was 20 in 1832! However, before his death he discovered a totally new way of mathematical thinking – now called the ‘Galois Theory’ or ‘Group Theory’ which is an area of maths called ‘abstract algebra’.” Today Noel-Ann is inspired by listening to mathematicians such as Robin Wilson and Marcus du Sautoy: “Their popular style means that you don’t need much mathematical background to understand the content of their lectures.” Check out another one of our favourite women in maths: Vi Hart’s http://vihart.com/ |

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