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Narratives of Women Mathematicians: A Neglected Aspect of History Pitsili-Chatzi, Dionysia


Abstract: The narratives and anecdotes of women mathematicians are a part of the history to which not often is payed attention. Anecdotal stories may offer a more profound understanding of what being a woman mathematician has meant in various eras. Considering women mathematicians' experiences and stories in relation to their biographies is valuable because it has the impetus to humanize, rather than mythologize the role of women in mathematics. This kind of an approach could also have implications in mathematics education with regards to issues of gender. More specifically, narratives of women mathematicians can provide a path for addressing obscured issues that affect girls' and women's relationships with the field.

In the beginning of the talk, I will propose that studying narrative accounts, can help us gain a better understanding when studying women mathematicians from a historical perspective. I will turn to the narrative accounts of Olga Taussky-Todd (1906-1995), Marjorie Lee Browne (1914-1979) and Maryam Marzakhani (1977-2017), to exemplify the above thesis and to discuss the importance of narratives for understanding the complicated struggle of these women mathematicians within the power relations of their time. Finally, I will propose that narrative accounts of women mathematicians from history can be used towards deconstructing the prevailing discourses about being a mathematician as incompatible with being a woman.

About the speaker: Dionysia Pitsili-Chatzi has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in mathematics education from the University of Athens in Greece. As of September 2017, she is a PhD student at the Faculty of Education in the University of Ottawa. Her studies are funded by the Onassis Scholarship Foundation.

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