Change Is Possible: Stories of Women and Minorities in Mathematics

Front Cover
American Mathematical Soc., 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 212 pages
The role of minority and women mathematicians in developing our American mathematical community is an important but previously under-told story. Pat Kenschaft, in her highly readable and entertaining style, fills this knowledge gap. This valuable book should be in your personal library --Donald G. Saari, University of California, Irvine Kenschaft reveals the passions that motivated past and present mathematicians and the obstacles they overcame to achieve their dreams. Through research and in-depth personal interviews, she has explored the sensitive issues of racism and sexism, rejoicing in positive changes and alerting us to issues that still need our attention. --Claudia Zaslavsky, the author of Africa Counts and other books on equity issues in mathematics education. Based on dozens of interviews and extensive historical research, this entertaining book relates stories about mathematicians who have defied stereotypes. It is spiced with interesting photographs. The five chapters about women provide insight into the nineteenth century, the mid-twentieth century, the early 1970s, the early 1990s, and 2004. Activists in many fields can take heart at the changes. The author documents trends from the rudimentary struggles simply to become professionals, to the freedom to be married without giving up a career entirely, to organizing to eliminate the most flagrant discrimination, to efforts to improve the daily treatment of women in the professional community, to widespread efforts toward true equity. The stories of African Americans in mathematics include that of Benjamin Banneker, an eighteenth century American who had three grandparents born in Africa. Banneker helped design Washington, D.C. and made the computations for almanacs that succeeded Benjamin Franklin's. Next follow stories about other African American mathematicians who were students and faculty in late nineteenth century colleges. Stories of several efforts to integrate the mathematical community in the mid-twentieth century indicate that some were more successful than others, but all were difficult. The book concludes with a happier chapter about five black mathematicians in the early twenty-first century. Five interviews with leading Latino American mathematicians are included, along with a report of a survey of Latino research mathematicians in the Southwest. A skilled story-teller with good stories to tell has produced a page-turner that all mathematicians should read, as well as others concerned with equity --and they will enjoy their reading.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
With the Help of Good White Men
5
Women and Mathematics in the Nineteenth Century
25
Mathematics and Marriage
49
African American Mathematicians from the Eighteenth through the Twentieth Century
77
Latino Mathematicians
111
The Association for Women in Mathematics
131
Skits Tell Whats Happening Around 1990
151
Women in Mathematics Now 2004
171
Minorities in Mathematics Now 2004
191
Conclusions
207
Appendix to Chapter 5 The Careers of 75 African American Mathematicians of New Jersey in Mid1985
211
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Patricia Clark, author of North of Wondering, won the first book award from Women in Literature Press. She is also the co-editor of Worlds in Our Words: An Anthology of Contemporary American Women Writers. At present, she teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University, where she is Professor in the Department of Writing and the university's poet-in-residence.

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