Celebrating the History of Women in Mathematics at Manchester

9th March 2016, 4:30pm to 6pm. In the School of Mathematics' Alan Turing Building.

In association with The British Society for the History of Mathematics, this event will celebrate the lives of three female mathematicians who not only made significant contributions to science but also lived incredible lives, thus earning a place in the history of mathematics in Manchester.

This is a public event, held in Room G.107, in the Alan Turing Building. If you would like to reserve a place at this event, please email Jenny Sloan, detailing any accessibility requirements.

Presentations will be given by:

Peter Neumann - on the life and works of Hanna Neumann (4.30-5pm)

Ruth Williams - on the life and works of Bertha Swirles (5-5.30pm)

David Silvester & Catherine Powell - on the Crank-Nicolson method and the life of Phyllis Nicolson (5.30-6pm)




Phyllis Nicolson earned her PhD from the department of Physics in Manchester. During WW2, she was a key member of a research group working for the Ministry of Supply at the University of Manchester led by Douglas Hartree. Her work, using a mechanical device known as the differential analyser, on the stable numerical solution of PDEs, helped the war effort. Later, she co-invented the famous Crank-Nicolson method, a key tool in the stable numerical solution of the heat equation.

After fleeing Nazi Germany for Britain during WW2, Hanna Neumann established an academic career in Britain.  She famously wrote her PhD thesis in a caravan and got her PhD in Oxford. In 1958, she became the first woman to be appointed as a lecturer in mathematics at UMIST. She is today recognised as one of the most prominent group theorists of her time. The discipline lives on in Manchester thanks in part to her legacy.

Bertha Swirles (aka Lady Jeffreys) was a prominent physicist who worked in the field of quantum theory. She obtained her PhD from Cambridge in 1929, and was appointed to a temporary lectureship in Physics at Manchester in 1928. In 1933, she returned to Manchester and served as a lecturer in Mathematics for a further five years. As such, she was one of the first female lecturers in mathematics in Manchester. Later, at Cambridge, she co-authored the classical textbook "Methods of Mathematical Physics", which is still widely used by mathematical physics students and researchers today.

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