Why would a woman pursue mathematical research in the late-nineteenth century?
For women in the United States, the best case scenario was employment at a woman's
college, in which one might find time for scholarship in between heavy teaching
loads. Charlotte Angas Scott at Bryn Mawr College held the unique position in which a
woman mathematician was expected and encouraged to pursue research. The
economic situation was compounded by social expectations - at the time, many
doubted that women were physically capable of original scientific research. Yet, Scott
did not view her mathematical proclivities as an aberration, asserting that women
were both capable and compelled to advance mathematics. A small, consistent
stream of graduate students at Bryn Mawr would take up Scott's challenge. Their
professional aims, shrouded in personal modesty, require some historical digging.
This talk will consider the evidence for women's intellectual ambition in the context
of efforts to open graduate opportunities in Germany documented in the intimate
public space of letters, student newspapers, and fellowship opportunities.
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