Inventing the Mathematician

Gender, Race, and Our Cultural Understanding of Mathematics

By Sara N. Hottinger

Subjects: Education, Cultural Studies, Mathematics, Gender Studies, Women's Studies
Paperback : 9781438460109, 215 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460093, 215 pages, March 2016

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction

2. The Discursive Construction of Gendered Subjectivity in Mathematics

3. Mathematical Subjectivity in Historical Accounts

4. The Role of Portraiture in Constructing a Normative Mathematical Subjectivity

5. The Ethnomathematical Other

6. Conclusion


Considers how our ideas about mathematics shape our individual and cultural relationship to the field.


Where and how do we, as a culture, get our ideas about mathematics and about who can engage with mathematical knowledge? Sara N. Hottinger uses a cultural studies approach to address how our ideas about mathematics shape our individual and cultural relationship to the field. She considers four locations in which representations of mathematics contribute to our cultural understanding of mathematics: mathematics textbooks, the history of mathematics, portraits of mathematicians, and the field of ethnomathematics. Hottinger examines how these discourses shape mathematical subjectivity by limiting the way some groups—including women and people of color—are able to see themselves as practitioners of math. Inventing the Mathematician provides a blueprint for how to engage in a deconstructive project, revealing the limited and problematic nature of the normative construction of mathematical subjectivity.

Sara N. Hottinger is Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Keene State College.


"…thought-provoking…" — Roots of Unity Blog

"…Hottinger's book gave me hope that scholars are conveying the message that mathematics is still considered masculine and that we as beneficiaries have much work to do so that my children (and others who look like them) are no longer positioned in mathematics textbooks or the classroom as passive learners of the subject. The more stakeholders become aware of the issues that Hottinger highlights throughout the book, the better chances our children have to be part of a culture where neither their gender, their race, nor their ethnicity is used to judge their mathematical ability. " — Dihema Longman, Journal of Urban Mathematics Education

"[Hottinger's] approach is scholarly but also informed by an unusual (but in some ways common) personal story: she considered becoming a mathematician before ultimately pursuing a career in women's studies. The result is a highly readable book that might just change math haters' minds about math (and, perhaps, make some math lovers more open to critical approaches to the field). " — Inside Higher Ed

"This text fills a great void … a welcome addition. " — CHOICE