I’ll be honest in that even though I have a bachelor’s and master’s in math, I have probably only heard of two non-white mathematicians in all of my math classes. It’s not like only white males can do mathematics. This is why I will add notable mathematicians on here frequently to have a little collection that teachers can use to expand the idea that anyone can look like a mathematician.

Yang Hui

In 1275, he described patterns in what is now known as Pascal’s Triangle. In Asia, they name that triangle after him (rightfully so, since Pascal didn’t come until 300+ years later). Hui also worked with magic squares and magic circles.


Benjamin Banneker (b. 1731)

Banneker made predictions on solar eclipses, surveyed Washington D.C., published his own almanac, and even made a completely wooden clock that was precise for decades. He wrote to Thomas Jefferson saying that one race is not superior to another.


Zu Chongzhi (429-500)

You know the volume formula of a sphere? He and his son derived it using dissection! He also approximated pi to 6 digits using the fraction 355/113 ~1100 years before Europeans achieved this!

Source: The Volume of a Sphere: A Chinese Derivation Author(s): Frank J. Swetz Source: The Mathematics Teacher, Vol. 88, No. 2 (FEBRUARY 1995), pp. 142-145 Published by: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Sonia/Sofia Kovalevsky (1850-1891)

Every year, the Fresno State math department would host a Sonia Kovalevsky Day where we would invite 7th-12th grade girls to our campus to show that they can be mathematicians as well. Kovalevsky’s dad would use his old calculus notes as her wallpaper and she was fascinated by it and wanted to study it more. Being from Russia at that time, she was unable to go to college without permission from her dad or her husband. Because of that, she got a fake marriage and went to study under Weierstrass in Germany at the University of Göttingen, where her specialities included partial differential equations, elliptical curves, and the dynamics of Saturn’s rings. In 1874, she became the first woman to receive a PhD in math.


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