Originally published in the ebook A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention.
by Katie Steckles
Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw is a prolific mathematician and political figure originally from Manchester. Even among mathematicians, Kathleen Ollerenshaw isn’t a household name, but she should be: she’s made contributions to several areas of mathematics, and her work in politics included a long campaign to improve the state of education, in particular maths education, in Britain.
Born in Withington in 1912, Kathleen studied at St Leonard’s boarding school, St Andrews, where she excelled in mathematics as well as enjoying sports. Although she lost her hearing at the age of eight due to an inherited condition, she didn’t let this affect her work and studies — she could lip-read fluently. Kathleen considered mathematics to be one of only a few subjects in which her deafness didn’t put her at a disadvantage. She didn’t even reveal to her interviewers at Oxford she was deaf u...
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