[SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Barbara B Walker bbwalker at unr.edu
Fri Sep 4 15:56:25 PDT 2020

Hmm, the scarcity of biographies of non-male scientists and mathematicians rings loudly in response to Sharon’s query. That’s too bad as biography is such an important form of inspiration for younger generations. What about works on Ada Lovelace, just to list the most obviously important woman in info tech?

For what it’s worth, a great source of information on female mathematicians if you are on Twitter is the account “Great Women of Mathematics,” which provides thumbnail biographies and sometimes good sources for further research. I include a truncated clip from a recent post below. Also great fun on Twitter are “Women in Aviation,” “Rocket Women,” and “Women Mil Aviators.” I’m sure there are plenty more that I don’t know about.

Barbara Walker
Great Women of Mathematics<https://twitter.com/GWOMaths>

Trying to think of something more badass than teaching "Math for Fun with Evelyn" in an assisted living facility at age 96.
Nope. There is *nothing* more badass.
Meet Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville!
GREAT WOMAN OF MATHEMATICS: DR. EVELYN BOYD GRANVILLE, born 1924. Dr. Granville was the second black woman in the US to earn a PhD in mathematics. Born in 1924, she grew up during the Great Depression. Her father worked as a janitor and the family struggled with poverty. She attended a 1/9

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of "Irish, Sharon Lee" <slirish at illinois.edu>
Date: Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 11:42 AM
To: members <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Dear colleagues,
I wade in to this topic with some trepidation, because I don’t have a particular recommendation that I have read, but surely there must be some well-done biographies about women-identified scientists and mathematicians?
A quick look at Autumn Stanley’s 1993 Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology lists a number of names and short bios.
I haven’t read it, but perhaps Evelyn Fox Keller’s A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983)?
Of course, there’s Margot Shetterly’s Hidden Figures about  Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, which isn’t strictly a biography (and which I also haven’t read.)
In short, I would welcome further recommendations and also encourage those of us who are writing about white male-identified scientists to ask who was not in the room or at the table or getting recognized during their lifetimes.

Sincere thanks for the collected wisdom of SIGCIS,
Sharon Irish
Research Affiliate
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Jeffrey Yost <yostx003 at umn.edu>
Date: Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 1:17 PM
To: Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>
Cc: members <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Hi Troy,

Bill Aspray's John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing, a deeply insightful and path breaking work of scholarship, in large part a biography, and much more. Andrew Hodges Alan Turing: The Enigma.  Leslie Berlin's The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley is a great bio on this influential physicist, engineer, and entrepreneur in IT.  (And sticking with  the Fairchild, Intel and Silicon Valley theme...) Arnold Thackray, David Brock, and Rachel Jones' Moore's Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's Quiet Revolutionary.   Agree what others have said on Waldrop's The Dream Machine, an excellent book by this top science journalist. And I very highly recommend Hunter's excellent biography on Herbert Simon.

Best, Jeff

  The Man behind the Microchip : Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley
"Injustice wears the same harsh face wherever it shows itself."-Ralph Ellison

Jeffrey R. Yost, Ph.D.
Director, Charles Babbage Institute
Research Professor, Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

222  21st Avenue South
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612 624 5050 Phone
612 625 8054 Fax

On Thu, Sep 3, 2020 at 6:31 AM Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk<mailto:Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>> wrote:

What is your favourite biography of a scientist or mathematician? I’m particularly interested in modern subjects and those who worked in computing/computer science. Ideally the book would cover the subject’s work in a reasonable level of technical detail as well as their life and the broader context in which they lived and worked.

I ask because I am considering applying for funding for an essentially biographical project on a computer scientist and I would like to read some (more) biographies first.


Troy Astarte

School of Computing
Newcastle University

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