Sophie Germain, French mathematician, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sophie Germain (1776-1831) fought against the social prejudices of the time to become a highly recognized mathematician. Self-taught, she made notable contributions to number theory and mathematical physics, particularly on the theory of elasticity. She worked with J L Lagrange (1736-1813) and Carl Friedrich Gaus (1777-1855), and was the first woman who was not a wife of a member, to attend the Academy of Sciences.