The woman who reshaped maths – BBC News

Posted: November 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Womens colleges provided essential opportunities for women as both professors and students. But, as Leff points out, womens colleges were colleges, so they didnt support the same type of sophisticated research that Geiringer had been doing in universities. Any research she did would be outside of her college duties and typically unpaid.

Geiringer never found in a US university a position equal to what she had in Germany and Turkey.

After accepting her post at Wheaton, Geiringer wrote to von Mises, I hope there will be better conditions for the next generations of women. In the meantime, one has to go on as well as possible.

And Geiringer did go on. She stayed at Wheaton, which granted her an honorary doctorate in mathematics, until her retirement in 1959, that same year, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She still did research when she found the time, but her most significant project post-immigration was compiling, editing, and publishing von Mises unfinished book in two editions after his death in 1953: Probably, Statistics, and Truth in 1964 and Mathematical Theory of Probability and Statistics in 1957.

Even if Geiringer didnt get exactly what she wanted, she never gave up on chasing that deepest need in her life.

Missed Genius

Ask people to imagine a scientist, and many of us will picture the same thing a heterosexual white male. Historically, a number of challenges have made it much more difficult for those who dont fit that stereotype to enter fields like science, math or engineering.

There are, however, many individuals from diverse backgrounds who have shaped our understanding of life and the Universe, but whose stories have gone untold until now. With our new BBC Future column, we are celebrating the missed geniuses who made the world what it is today.


Portrait of Hilda Geiringer by Emmanuel Lafont.

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The woman who reshaped maths - BBC News

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