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Top secret Rosies: The female computers of WWII

The Institute for Math and its Applications (IMA) was founded in 1982 by the National Science Foundation. Its mission is to "increase the impact of mathematics by fostering research of a truly interdisciplinary nature, linking mathematics of the highest caliber and important science and technological problems from other disciplines and industry."

Part of their work includes hosting workshops, programs, public lectures, and other events on campus. You should take a look at their great calendar of events!

This month, they are hosting a special screening of a documentary celebrating the work of female mathematicians during WWII.

"This documentary tells the story of four women 'computers,' presenting their exhilarating successes in aiding the war effort and the moral dilemmas they faced. WWII ushered in a new era for women in the workforce, including female mathematicians. In 1942, the United States military began recruiting college-educated female mathematicians to work as human 'computers.' Equipped with desktop calculators and a differential analyzer (a predecessor to the world's first electronic computer), these women computed firing tables which improved the accuracy and effectiveness of the Allies' weapons. Working 6 days a week, 24 hours a day from a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, the women were considered sub-professionals and paid only $2,000 a year, but their efforts had profound effects on the war and on the dawn of computer programming."

The screening will be held on Thursday, February 24 from 5-6 p.m. in 130 Murphy Hall on campus. This documentary sounds fascinating and I will definitely be attending! If you are able to travel to campus, I encourage you to attend too. The screening is free, but the IMA requests that you RSVP by emailing them at this address: imitrea@ima.umn.edu.


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