Entrance hall of the ICMSCalendar Entry

Sep 14, 2017 - Sep 14, 2017
18:00 - 20:00


Mary Somerville and the Secrets of the Universe

A public lecture by Elisabetta Strickland
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”
& Gender Interuniversity Observatory, Italy

It is an astonishing experience to go back in time and explore the world where study and research for women were forbidden by law. The fascinating life of the Scottish scientist and popular writer Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780-1872) brings us back in this past and, in the same time, describes the fight of one great dame for equal rights and opportunities for women. Her fight was not political, in a sense that she did not try to influence the public opinion with her words or her actions, but by winning the respect of the scientific world. Her extraordinary mathematical talent only came to light through fortuitous circumstances. Barely taught to read and write as a child, all the science she learned and mastered was self taught. By giving this example of scientific competence, she backed the struggle towards education opportunities for women that lead to their access to schools. The Somerville College in Oxford was named in her honor in 1879 and produced famous graduates like Vera Brittain, Dorothy Hodgkin, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher.

Elisabetta Strickland is full professor of Algebra at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata”. She was Deputy-President of the National Institute of Advanced Mathematics from 2007 to 2015. In 2014 she became a member of the Women in Mathematics Committee of the European Mathematical Society and, in 2015, President of the Central Committee for the promotion of equal opportunities, workers’ welfare and non-discrimination (CUG) of her University. She is also co-founder of the Gender Interuniversity Observatory GIO of the state Universities of Rome. She is the author of “Scienziate d’Italia”, Donzelli Ed. 2011. In 2013 the Capitoline Administration awarded her the Prize “Excellent Women in Rome”. She is also the author of the book The Ascent of Mary Somerville in 19th Century Society, recently published by Springer.

The talk will take place in the Newhaven Lecture Theatre, ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AA.
Doors open at 5.30pm.
The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.
Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance.  A link to the booking service will appear here shortly.

Presented as part of Maths Week Scotland