Women's History Month Shout Out

“At a time when women had few options and were treated as property, Hypatia move freely and unself-consciously through the traditional male domains.  By all accounts, she was a great beauty.” – Carl Sagan on Hypatia of Alexandria, in Cosmos

(ca. AD 350/370–415) Hypatia of Alexandria was a mathematician and philosopher.  She was the daughter of a mathematician named Theon Alexandricus and last librarian of the Library of Alexandria in ancient Roman Egypt.  Hypatia was educated in Athens and Italy and became the head of the Platonist school at Alexandria.  Her notable students included Plato and Aristotle.  Hypatia is regarded as the first woman to have made substantial contributions to math.

Sources: Oregon State University and Wikipedia (for birth dates)

6 thoughts on “Women's History Month Shout Out”

  1. Mamta, nice quote from Cosmos (though I’m not sure how I feel about that last bit, where Sagan talks about “her great beauty”…)

    I guess since we don’t have any authentic likenesses of Hypatia, interpretations will have to do. Where did the photo above come from? The dress seems, shall we say… ill-suited for an Egyptian climate 🙂

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Neve! I thought about leaving that part out…wasn’t sure myself. If nothing else, it’s great discussion. The image came from Wikipedia (not my favorite source but none of them really got my thumbs up) and I too think it seems too modern to be from ancient Egypt. If you find a better one, let me know! I am happy to update it.

  3. Forgot to say that the reason Hypatia was on my mind is that I’ve named a science building after her — on the campus of a (fictitious) Minnesota university in the novel I’ve been working on. Other women scientists got their own buildings too. Kind of fun to do that.

    I don’t know of any more suitable images, though.

  4. What a lovely thing to say, Mamta! The book is a few days away from going to my editor. More details to come.

  5. Hypatia is regarded as the first woman to have made substantial contributions to math.

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