I still remember the feeling I had – like missing a step – when my professor first referred to the brilliant mathematician Emmy Noether as “she.” Even though I am a woman studying mathematics, I had assumed Noether would be a man, as so many other of the “greats” we studied were. It surprised me how moved I was to learn she was a woman, too.

Looking deeper into Noether’s life, I discovered that her career path was not easy: She was a Jewish woman at a time when neither Jews nor women were welcome in German academia. She fought sexism for years to get the professorship she deserved – and lost her job almost instantly when the Nazis came to power.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Noether’s groundbreaking paper on ring theory, and in my story for The Conversation, I explore how her journey and mathematical contributions have inspired mathematicians like me right up to today.

Also today:

Tamar Lichter Blanks

AAAS Mass Media Fellow

Emmy Noether made significant contributions to theoretical mathematics. Konrad Jacobs, Erlangen/Wikimedia Commons

Emmy Noether faced sexism and Nazism – 100 years later her contributions to ring theory still influence modern math

Tamar Lichter Blanks, Rutgers University

A century after publishing major papers in theoretical mathematics, German-born Emmy Noether continues to challenge and inspire mathematicians with her story and mathematical legacy.

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