Influential Women in Mathematics From the Last 10 Years

Influential Women in Mathematics From the Last 10 Years

Our list of influential women in mathematics features mathematicians who have been highly cited and searched online over the last 10 years. These famous women do work in areas such as blockchain technology, image compression, number theory, quantum computing, and more.

Top 10 Women in Mathematics From the Last 10 Years

  1. Shafi Goldwasser
  2. Maryna Viazovska
  3. Claire Voisin
  4. Maryam Mirzakhani
  5. Fan Chung
  6. Eugenia Malinnikova
  7. Ingrid Daubechies
  8. Hannah Fry
  9. Tamar Ziegler
  10. Kaisa Matomäki

Mathematicians use their skills in an extremely broad range of applications including algorithms, calculus, computational analysis, logic, mathematical modeling, geometry, and set theory. Mathematicians work in diverse fields, including academia, the film industry, astronomy, biology, business, climate study, engineering, insurance, medicine, physics, and robotics.

Broadly speaking, math is a high growth field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of employment will grow at a robust rate of 28% between now and 2030, adding more than 67,000 jobs in that time. Women have made tremendous gains in the field of mathematics in recent years. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2019, women made up nearly half of mathematics professionals (47%). But with women earning 25% of the doctorates in mathematics and computer science in 2015, there is still considerable room for growth at the top of the field.

There are a number of organizations dedicated to this very objective. The Association for Women in Mathematics has worked since 1971 to increase the presence and visibility of women in the mathematical sciences. Likewise, the Women and Mathematics Network, which exists under the Mathematical Association of America Committee on the Participation of Women, is interested in outreach and advocacy programs in mathematics for women and girls. Organizations like the National Association of Mathematicians and The Math Alliance promote excellence in mathematics, the mathematical development of underrepresented minorities and an increase in the number of mathematical doctorates earned by underrepresented minorities.

Today, women are breaking new ground in every area of the math discipline. Former child prodigy Ruth Lawrence, for instance, is a leading thinker on knot theory and algebraic topology. Fan Chung is widely recognized for her work in spectral graph theory and extremal graph theory. At the top of our list, Shafi Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and though her resume spans the whole discipline, her primary focus is on fundamental aspects of computer security, like cryptography.

Influential Women in Mathematics From the Last 10 Years

  1. #1

    Shafi Goldwasser

    1958 - Present (64 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Computational Complexity Theory, Cryptography, Number Theory
    Shafrira "Shafi" Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She received a bachelor's degree in computer science and mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, and a master's and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

    Goldwasser's impressive career spans many areas in computer science, including computational complexity theory, cryptography, and number theory. She has been in high demand during her impressive career in computer science, serving as chief scientist and co-founder of thr Israeli company Duality Technologies using cryptographic methods for data security, and has served as an advisor to a number of successful ventures, including companies focusing on blockchain technology, which has become hugely popular in recent years. Goldwasser is also a member of the Theory of Computation group at the world-renowned Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Her primary focus is on fundamental aspects of computer security, like cryptography, a topic that is of both theoretical interest in computer science and mathematics and has obvious practical applications to many industries like finance, banking, and data protection.

  2. #2

    Maryna Viazovska

    1984 - Present (38 years)
    Maryna Sergiivna Viazovska is a Ukrainian mathematician known for her work in sphere packing. She is currently full professor at the Chair of Number Theory at the Institute of Mathematics of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
  3. #3

    Claire Voisin

    1962 - Present (60 years)
    Claire Voisin is a French mathematician known for her work in algebraic geometry. She is a member of the French Academy of Sciences and holds the chair of Algebraic Geometry at the Collège de France.
  4. #4

    Maryam Mirzakhani

    1977 - 2017 (40 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Teichmüller Theory, Hyperbolic Geometry, Ergodic Theory, Symplectic Geometry
    Maryam Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran. She received the 2014 Fields Medal (often referred to as the "Nobel Prize for Mathematics"). Mirzakhani is the first and, to-date, only female recipient of this prestigious award since its inception in 1936. At the time of her death, she was Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University.

    Mirzakhani attended Farzanegan School in Tehran, a private girls' school for the academically gifted. In 1994, she won a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad, which was held in Hong Kong that year. The following year, in Toronto, she took home two gold medals.

    In 1998, while studying as an undergraduate at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran–considered then as now Iran's premier university of science and technology–Mirzakhani was involved in a tragic accident. A bus carrying Sharif University math students fell off a cliff, and she was one of only a handful of survivors.

  5. #5

    Fan Chung

    1949 - Present (73 years)
    Fan-Rong King Chung Graham , known professionally as Fan Chung, is a Taiwanese-born American mathematician who works mainly in the areas of spectral graph theory, extremal graph theory and random graphs, in particular in generalizing the Erdős–Rényi model for graphs with general degree distribution .
  6. #6

    Eugenia Malinnikova

    1974 - Present (48 years)
    Eugenia Malinnikova is a mathematician, winner of the 2017 Clay Research Award which she shared with Aleksandr Logunov “in recognition of their introduction of a novel geometric combinatorial method to study doubling properties of solutions to elliptic eigenvalue problems”.
  7. #7

    Ingrid Daubechies

    1954 - Present (68 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Wavelets, Inverse Problems, Shape Space, Time-Frequency Analysis
    Daubechies is the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. Prior to Duke, Daubechies was William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University from 2004-2011. She was the first female full professor of mathematics at the Ivy League institution. Daubechies is one of the most widely cited mathematicians, and is world renowned for her work on the mathematics of image compression, known as wavelets (an area of relevance to computer science and other disciplines in addition to mathematics). From Belgium, Daubechies received her bachelor's in physics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1975. She received her Ph.D. from CNRS Center for Theoretical Physics in Marseille, France in 1980.

    Daubechies proved an important result in wavelet theory that extended the theory to digital signal processing, a result of significant theoretic and practical significance. Her work on wavelets has made her one of the most influential mathematicians of our era. Notably, Daubechies has also been active in encouraging women to pursue studies and careers in mathematics and other cognate fields (like physics). She is co-founder of the Duke Summer Workshop in Mathematics for promising female students.

  8. #8

    Hannah Fry

    1984 - Present (38 years)
    Hannah Fry is a British mathematician, author, lecturer, radio and television presenter, podcaster and public speaker. She is Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. She studies the patterns of human behaviour, such as interpersonal relationships and dating, and how mathematics can apply to them. Fry delivered the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.
  9. #9

    Tamar Ziegler

    1971 - Present (51 years)
    Tamar Debora Ziegler is an Israeli mathematician known for her work in ergodic theory, combinatorics and number theory. She holds the Henry and Manya Noskwith Chair of Mathematics at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University.
  10. #10

    Kaisa Matomäki

    1985 - Present (37 years)
    Kaisa Sofia Matomäki is a Finnish mathematician specializing in number theory. Since September 2015, she has been working as an Academic Research Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland. Her research includes results on the distribution of multiplicative functions over short intervals of numbers; for instance, she showed that the values of the Möbius function are evenly divided between +1 and −1 over short intervals. These results, in turn, were among the tools used by Terence Tao to prove the Erdős discrepancy problem.
  11. #11

    Emmy Murphy

    1986 - Present (36 years)
    Emmy Murphy is an American mathematician and a professor at Princeton University who works in the area of symplectic topology, contact geometry and geometric topology. Education Murphy graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007, the first in her family to earn a college degree. She completed her doctorate at Stanford University in 2012; her dissertation, Loose Legendrian Embeddings in High Dimensional Contact Manifolds, was supervised by Yakov Eliashberg.
  12. #12

    Marianna Csörnyei

    1975 - Present (47 years)
    Marianna Csörnyei is a Hungarian mathematician who works as a professor at the University of Chicago. She does research in real analysis, geometric measure theory, and geometric nonlinear functional analysis. She proved the equivalence of the zero measure notions of infinite dimensional Banach spaces.
  13. #13

    Alicia Dickenstein

    1955 - Present (67 years)
    Alicia Dickenstein is an Argentine mathematician known for her work on algebraic geometry, particularly toric geometry, tropical geometry, and their applications to biological systems. She is a full professor at the University of Buenos Aires, a 2019 Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, a former vice-president of the International Mathematical Union , and a 2015 recipient of The World Academy of Sciences prize.
  14. #14

    Irene Fonseca

    1956 - Present (66 years)
    Irene Maria Quintanilha Coelho da Fonseca is a Portuguese-American applied mathematician, the Kavčić-Moura University Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, where she directs the Center for Nonlinear Analysis.
  15. #15

    Cathy O'Neil

    1972 - Present (50 years)
    Catherine Helen O’Neil is an American mathematician, data scientist, and author. She is the founder of the blog and has written books on data science, including the New York Times best-seller Weapons of Math Destruction, which is an influential source for the Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence community. Her opinion columns are published in Bloomberg View. She is a former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Tow Center.
  16. #16

    Melanie Wood

    1981 - Present (41 years)
    Melanie Matchett Wood is an American mathematician at Harvard University who was the first woman to qualify for the U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad Team. She completed her Ph.D. in 2009 at Princeton University and is currently Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University, after being Chancellor’s Professor of Mathematics at UC Berkeley and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, and spending 2 years as Szegö Assistant Professor at Stanford University. She is a number theorist; more specifically, her research centers on arithmetic s...
  17. #17

    Lisa Piccirillo

    Lisa Marie Piccirillo is an American mathematician who works on geometry and low-dimensional topology. In 2020, Piccirillo published a mathematical proof in the journal Annals of Mathematics determining that the Conway knot is not a slice knot, answering an unsolved problem in knot theory first proposed over fifty years prior by English mathematician John Horton Conway. In July 2020, she became an assistant professor of mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  18. #18

    Nina Holden

    Nina Holden is a Norwegian mathematician interested in probability theory and stochastic processes, including graphons, random planar maps, the Schramm–Loewner evolution, and their applications to quantum gravity. She is a Junior Fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Studies at ETH Zurich, and has an accepted a position as an associate professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University beginning in 2021.
  19. #19

    Urmila Mahadev

    Urmila Mahadev is an American mathematician and theoretical computer scientist known for her work in quantum computing and quantum cryptography. Education and career Mahadev is originally from Los Angeles, where her parents are physicians. She became interested in quantum computing through a course with Leonard Adleman at the University of Southern California, where she graduated in 2010.
  20. #20

    Katherine Johnson

    1918 - 2020 (102 years)
    Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. During her 33-year career at NASA and its predecessor, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. The space agency noted her “historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist”.
  21. #21

    Karen Uhlenbeck

    1942 - Present (80 years)
    Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck is an American mathematician and one of the founders of modern geometric analysis. She is a professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin, where she held the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University.
  22. #22

    Maria Chudnovsky

    1977 - Present (45 years)
    Maria Chudnovsky is an Israeli-American mathematician working on graph theory and combinatorial optimization. She is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow. Education and career Chudnovsky is a professor in the department of mathematics at Princeton University. She grew up in Russia and Israel, studying at the Technion, and received her Ph.D. in 2003 from Princeton University under the supervision of Paul Seymour. After postdoctoral research at the Clay Mathematics Institute, she became an assistant professor at Princeton University in 2005, and moved to Columbia University in 2006. By 2014, she was the L...
  23. #23

    Sylvia Serfaty

    1975 - Present (47 years)
    Sylvia Serfaty is a French mathematician working in the United States. She won the 2004 EMS Prize for her contributions to the Ginzburg–Landau theory, the Henri Poincaré Prize in 2012, and the of the French Academy of Sciences in 2013.
  24. #24

    Shihoko Ishii

    1950 - Present (72 years)
    Shihoko Ishii is a Japanese mathematician and professor at the University of Tokyo. Her research area is algebraic geometry. Education Ishii received her bachelor’s degree from Tokyo Women’s Christian University in 1973 and her master’s degree from Waseda University in 1975. She earned her PhD from Tokyo Metropolitan University in 1983.
  25. #25

    Ruth Lawrence

    1971 - Present (51 years)
    Ruth Elke Lawrence-Neimark is a British–Israeli mathematician and an associate professor of mathematics at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a researcher in knot theory and algebraic topology. Outside academia, she is best known for having been a child prodigy in mathematics.
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Image Credits:

Top row, left to right: Patricia Hill Collins, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Malala Yousafzai, Shafi Goldwasser, Jennifer Doudna, Fabiola Gianotti, Michiko Kakutani, Lauren Underwood.

Bottom row, left to right: Fei-Fei Li, Esther Duflo, Kathy Reichs, Nancy Fraser, Brené Brown, Judith Curry, Jill Lepore, Zaha Hadid.