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Wednesday's Women in STEM: Hypatia

Since her lifetime, Hypatia has become a symbol for feminism throughout the world. She was one of the first recorded women to study and teach math, and she also became an expert in Egyptian philosophy and astronomy. Hypatia was born sometime between 350 and 370 CE in Alexandria, Egypt. Her father, Theon, was a well-known scholar and one of the last members of the library at Alexandria. Even though Hypatia was a woman, he was determined to make sure she grew up well-educated and with a deep respect for their Greek heritage and values. After years of studying mathematics and astronomy with her father, she became an expert; her knowledge surpassed her father in mathematical studies. She wrote important commentary on male mathematicians’ work without hesitation and made her own contributions to geometry and number theory. In fact, many Egyptians called her “the Egyptian wise woman” and regarded her intelligence as profound as Plato and Aristotle. As she wrote about number theory, she also worked with her father on theories about how math and the solar system were intertwined. Through this work, she invented a new version of the hydrometer that greatly helped with the formation of advanced cities. Along with her scientific work, Hypatia became an expert in philosophy and one of Alexandria's first female teachers. Despite being a woman, Hypatia’s male students granted her respect and loyalty. Just before Hypatia died, she was cited in an ancient encyclopedia called the Suda. Egyptians looked up to her as a source of light and knowledge, and she proved that women are extremely valuable members of the scientific community.

BY: Kenedy Quandt

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