Complexities: Women in mathematics. (English) Zbl 1072.01023

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (ISBN 0-691-11462-5/hbk). xx, 413 p. (2005).
Since some decades women in Europe and Nothern America have equal rights as men, but there are still less women getting the Ph. D. or executive positions in mathematics. To encourage more young women to contemplate a career as a mathematician, B. Case and A. Leggett collected the curriculum vitae of woman mathematician from the late eighteenth century to the present day. They also report the efforts made by the “Asssociation for Woman in Mathematics (AWM)”and the Honors and Awards woman mathematician received (mainly in U.S.). Some of the articles are based on material of the newsletter of the AWM, some are based on talks at mathematical meetings and conferences.
In the first chapter we find fifteen women born before 1920. Among them are well known women like Sophie Germain, Ada B. Lovelace, Sonia Kovalevsky, Emmy Noether or Grace Chisholm Young. In former time there was much discrimination against women mathematicians. Sophie Germain taught herself mathematics by candle light secretly. Emmy Noether worked without formal appointment or pay at the universities of Erlangen and Göttingen. Articles of Grace Chisholm Young where publicized only with the name of her husband.
Since the middle of the twentieth century things go better. We find women with positions in universities, and outside the academy in industry, government or administration. Up to 1970 about twenty African-American woman received the Ph. D. in mathematics. They had to deal with discrimination on two fronts: Black and Female.
Today there is no more much discrimination against women mathematicians, but there are still problems to combine a career as mathematician and family life.
There is the “Two-body-problem” of finding two jobs in the same city for the woman and her partner. There is the problem to choose the best time to form a family. The time for establishing a career, getting a Ph. D. and a Post-doc job is between the age of 25 and 35. – this is also the same best time to have children.
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!


01A80 Sociology (and profession) of mathematics
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
01-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to history and biography