1882 - 1935

Noether theorem

If you are a mathematician, you may be familiar with the Noether theorem, but do you know the story of the woman behind the concept?

Emmy Noether initially trained to be a language teacher, but soon after that, she followed her true curiosity and studied mathematics. She joined lectures as unofficial audience for a few years, until German universities officially opened their gates to women students. She successfully achieved a PhD in mathematics. While women were still not allowed to teach, she served as her father’s teaching substitute in many of the university lectures and professorship duties. From that moment on, her life was full of bright achievements hindered by continuous burdens for women to shine in mathematics, for example, unpaid work or miserable salaries, and laws against women in professorship positions in both Germany and the U.S., where she fled when the Nazis took power.

Among her remarkable contributions to science, we may mention her enriching of Einstein’s work when she was invited by David Hilbert and Felix Klein to address Einstein’s theories. Emmy Noether linked the concepts of conservation laws and symmetries. And she may be most remembered by the Noether theorem (one of her many theorems and concepts), which has set basis for many other concepts in mathematics and physics since then. She is considered the starter of algebra as its own mathematical discipline.

A hidden mind, recognised as a genius by her field colleagues, and yet limited by society and academic norms posing huge barriers for women.

Written by: Enriqueta Vallejo-Yagüe.