1st Woman Mathematician




Who is Theano?

Theano of Croton is usually given the title of the first woman mathematician. We don’t know very much about her.  However, she is believed to be the wife of Pythagoras, which would make sense since she is believed to have worked on the concepts of the Golden Ratio and the Golden Rectangle.

Ahead of their time

Pythagoras and Theano were said to have a school that taught mathematics, philosophy, and the natural sciences. For its time (the 6th Century) it was a sizable school with up to 300 students. One of the things that made it unusual was that it not only taught men, it also had as many as 28 women students. When Pythagoras died, Theano continued to run the school. The writings of the Pythagorean Women including Theano explored topics of the life of women, equality in the areas of knowledge and philosophy, and more.

Her Contributions to Mathematics

Although we only have fragments of Theano’s writings, she is credited with writing many treatises and exploratory works including: 

  • Cosmology
  • Female Advice
  • Letters
  • On Virtue
  • On Piety
  • On Pythagoras
  • Pythagorean Apophthegms
  • Philosophical Commentaries
  • The Theorem of the Golden Mean

Learn more about surviving texts by Theano from the British Museum

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