Great science chicks from history

From Merit Ptah—Chief Physician of ancient Egypt—to 1st-century BC alchemist Mary the Jewess, the Science Chicks from History Tumblr is dedicated to introducing you to all the science-y ladies you didn't learn about in school.

The image above is titled "Woman teaching geometry”. It comes from an early 14th century translation of Euclid.


  1. From first through twelfth grade I had a succession of lousy math teachers, with two notable exceptions–both of them women.  The woman in the picture above even kind of reminds me of one of them: my 4th grade teacher. It was in 4th grade that we started geometry, which I thought was amazingly cool. The best science teacher I ever had was also a woman–specifically, 7th grade biology.

    In addition to their patience what I think made these teachers great, especially my biology teacher, was that, unlike most of my other teachers in math and science, they seemed to really understand what they were talking about. And my biology teacher was excited about what she was teaching.

    I think of them whenever I hear someone say (even jokingly) that girls can’t do math, or that they think science is “icky”.

    Anyway, it’s really cool to see this compilation, and, although she wasn’t a formal scientist, one I’d nominate for inclusion is Anne Thynne.

  2. Damn, I just can’t resist….

    She’s not teaching!  She’s the pupil and the ten teachers in front of her are deviated why she doesn’t get it.  One of them even falcepalms.

  3. The woman depicted might not be a specific individual but Geometria, the allegorial figure. We’d have to see the  text from the manuscript to  be sure.

  4. Another possibility: The image shows a woman teaching geometry. BUT it’s highly likely – given the creators of illuminated manuscripts penchant for cartooning and small jokes – that it’s illustrating the then more popular belief that women could not understand geometry. 
    1. Compare the mess on the table to the geometric precision of the gold background. 
    2. Check out the doubtful expressions of the pupils. 
    3. What could she be demonstrating with the calipers? Precision could have been implied by placing one point at a correct corner.
    4. There’s something wrong about her handling of the T-Square.
    5. Two pupils are pointing at separate things, implying a mistake/misunderstanding. 
    Like I said, a possibility,  but I think a likely one for pre 20th century attitudes.

    1.  Our modern day political cartoons are much more superior because the artist takes time out to label and explain everything

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