Mathematics and Gender Studies: an Overview

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## Mathematics and Gender Studies: an Overview

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**1. **Mathematics and Gender Studies: an Overview Andrea Blunck
Department Mathematik
Universität Hamburg

**2. **Outline of the talk Gender Studies on Mathematics:
Introduction
Classification of Research Topics
Some Results
Some Projects
Some Ideas and Questions

**3. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Introduction:
Why is it so hard to do Gender Studies on Mathematics?

**4. **Gender Studies on Mathematics joint with Irene Pieper-Seier (Oldenburg):
entry
Mathematics
in the German Handbook Women‘s and Gender Studies
A.B./I.P.-S.: Mathematik – Genderforschung auf schwierigem Terrain, in: Beate Kortendiek/Ruth Becker (eds.): Handbuch Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung, 2008

**5. **Gender Studies on Mathematics “Mathematics is one of those scientific disciplines that are hard to access by women’s and gender studies. The category “gender” seems to play no role in mathematics. The objects of mathematical research are abstract objects, studied only by logical deductions. Thus gender is neither an explicit nor an implicit topic of mathematical research. And the research methods look so objective that there seems to be no influence of the researchers.”

**6. **Gender Studies on Mathematics
contents of mathematics hard to access by gender studies
so far: research mainly on women in mathematics
Gender Studies on Mathematics not yet established as a research area

**7. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Classification of research topics
history of mathematics
didactics of mathematics
mathematics as field of study or work
science studies on mathematics

**8. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Classification of research topics
history of mathematics
didactics of mathematics
mathematics as field of study or work
science studies on mathematics

**9. **History of Mathematics
biographies of
individual women mathematicians
groups of women mathematicians

**10. **History of Mathematics
biographies of individual women mathematicians, in order to
appreciate these women
make them and their contributions to mathematics visible

**11. **Maria Gaetana Agnesi 1718 – 1799, Milan
1748 Instituzioni Analitiche ad Uso della Gioventù Italiana: first book on analysis in Italian
1750 appointed “professor of mathematics” at the university of Bologna; but she never worked there
1752 she left mathematics

**12. **Maria Gaetana Agnesi Agnesi was typical for women scientists of her time:
no formal education
not part of the scientific community
exceptional
U. Klens: Mathematikerinnen im 18. Jahrhundert, 1994
M. Mazzotti: The world of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, 2007

**13. **Ruth Moufang 1905 – 1977
1930 PhD, Frankfurt
1936 habilitation – but the Nazi regime did not allow her to teach: because she was a woman!
1957 first female professor of mathematics in Germany
Literature: Irene Pieper-Seier

**14. **History of Mathematics
biographies of groups of women mathematicians, combined with
a description of the history of women’s education
a reflection on the marginalization of women in mathematics

**15. **History of Mathematics The first female PhDs in mathematics in Germany:
Until 1908, eight women obtained their PhD in mathematics in Germany, among them seven women from abroad, e.g.:
Sofia Kovalevskaya (Russia; Göttingen 1874)
Grace Chisholm Young (UK; Göttingen 1895)
Mary Frances Winston (USA; Göttingen 1897)
They paved the way for German women. It was only in 1909 that women were allowed to study throughout Germany.
Literature: Renate Tobies

**16. **History of Mathematics Presentation of role models – Motivation for female students:
„well, Emmy Noether, in algebra ..... when I heard about her, I went home and read a little bit about her, because I liked it that at least once there was a women and not always only men.“
Interview with a female math student from Hamburg. From a study by Dr. Anina Mischau (Bielefeld).

**17. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Classification of research topics
history of mathematics
didactics of mathematics
mathematics as field of study or work
science studies on mathematics

**18. **Didactics of Mathematics
differences in achievement / in interests
gender-sensitive teaching methods
coeducation?
“doing gender” in the classroom:
in math classes girls actively contribute to the construction of “femininity” by acting as if they were low achievers (Sylvia Jahnke-Klein 2001)

**19. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Classification of research topics
history of mathematics
didactics of mathematics
mathematics as field of study or work
science studies on mathematics

**20. **Mathematics as field of study or work
collecting statistical data
sociological studies
on students of mathematics
on people working in mathematics

**21. **Mathematics as field of study or work two studies carried out at the University of Oldenburg:
Beate Curdes, Sylvia Jahnke-Klein, Wiebke Lohfeld, Irene Pieper-Seier 2003: Students of mathematics, their experiences and their plans for the future
Karin Flaake, Kristina Hackmann, Irene Pieper-Seier, Stephanie Radtke 2006: Female professors of mathematics

**22. **Mathematics as field of study or work Some results of these studies:
female students of mathematics
like mathematics because it is “clear” and “reliable”
consider doing mathematical research / writing a PhD thesis as “risky” (this is not the case for male students)

**23. **Mathematics as field of study or work Some results of these studies:
most female professors of mathematics in Germany
have been encouraged from the beginning of their careers
were part of a research group already as a student

**24. **Gender Studies on Mathematics Classification of research topics
history of mathematics
didactics of mathematics
mathematics as field of study or work
science studies on mathematics

**25. **Science Studies on Mathematics
so far: not much research
some starting points:
the image of mathematics
female mathematics ?

**26. **The image of mathematics mathematics is seen as a “male” discipline (e.g. in German speaking countries, in the UK)
(how) does mathematics, and the teaching of mathematics, participate in constituting this male image and thus in the construction of gender?
“vicious circle” (Paul Ernest, 1995): low percentage of women in mathematics – gender-stereotypical image of mathematics

**27. **Female mathematics? Origins of mathematical concepts
Ellen Harlizius-Klück 2004:
books on arithmetic in Euclid’s elements: seemingly no application
possible origin: weaving – work done by women

**28. **Female mathematics? Ethnomathematics
mathematics of non-western cultures
implicit mathematical practices, e.g., in handicraft, art, architecture
often carried out and handed down by women

**29. **Female mathematics? Ethnomathematics
Paulus Gerdes: Women, Art and Geometry in Southern Africa, 1998

**30. **Female mathematics? Ethnomathematics
Paulus Gerdes: Women, Art and Geometry in Southern Africa, 1998
review of this book, by Jens Høyrup:

**31. **Female mathematics? “In the present book, the author continues his investigations of the mathematical – in particular geometrical – thought of African cultures and of its possible utility in mathematics teaching in an African context. It concentrates on women's geometrical creations, in part because women students may need extra encouragement in Africa as elsewhere in order to counterbalance the model mathematician normally presented in cosmopolitan mathematics education, but mainly because women are the sophisticated geometers in the cultures that are dealt with in the book:

**32. **Female mathematics? they decorate the houses, they weave bags and baskets from coloured straw, they make tattooings – and some of them are experts who guide others. (…) Here as elsewhere, sophisticated mathematics is a specialist's business, as reported in various places in the book. The notion of “sophisticated mathematics” is justified, even though the specialists in question do not look at themselves as “mathematicians”, a role for which traditional society has no space; but many of the patterns shown in the book exhibit symmetries that bear witness of intense reflection on formal properties of patterns.”

**33. **Some projects
my current research project
ideas for future research

**34. **Current research project GenderMathematik: Gender competence as an innovative element of teacher education in mathematics
joint project:
Anina Mischau (sociology, Bielefeld)
Sabine Mehlmann (pedagogics, Gießen)
A.B. (mathematics, Hamburg)
team members: Torsten Woellmann, Georgine Kalil
supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research

**35. **Current research project GenderMathematik: Gender competence as an innovative element of teacher education in mathematics
main steps:
design and development of a seminar “Gender Competence in Mathematics” for teacher education at universities
testing and evaluation of the seminar at eight German universities

**36. **Current research project GenderMathematik: Gender competence as an innovative element of teacher education in mathematics
contents of the seminar:
knowledge on gender: e.g., mathematics as a gendered discipline
didactical competence: methods for gender-sensitive teaching of mathematics
(self) reflection

**37. **Ideas for future research Mathematics as a field of social practice:
mathematicians at work
mathematics as scientific community with special culture
metaphors
which practices are part of mathematics and which are not?

**38. **Ideas for future research Metaphors:
mathematical structures or objects
live in certain spaces
inherit properties
get married

**39. **Ideas for future research Mathematics as social practice
possible method:
laboratory studies: ethnographic studies on scientists at work

**40. **Ideas for future research Mathematics as social practice
Bettina Heintz: Die Innenwelt der Mathematik, 2000:
ethnographic study at the Max-Planck-Institut for Mathematics in Bonn
sociology of mathematics
gender almost not considered

**41. **Ideas for future research Questions that may be gender-related:
from a review of Heintz’ book, by Moritz Epple:
Which research topics are considered to be important? Which methods are considered to be promising? Which groups share these views?
How does the mathematical community award reputation?
How do different areas of mathematics compete for resources and how are such competitions settled?

**42. **Thank you for your attention !!