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Hertha Ayrton

(Phoebe Sarah) Hertha Ayrton, née Marks (28 April 1854 in Portsea - 23 August 1923) was an English engineer, mathematician and inventor.

She attended Girton College, Cambridge where she studied mathematics, and passed the Mathematical Tripos in 1880. At that time Cambridge gave only certificates and not degrees to women. She therefore successfully completed an external examination and received a B.Sc. degree from the University of London.

Ayrton invented a draftsman's device that could be used for dividing up a line into equal parts as well as for enlarging and reducing figures. She was also active in devising and solving mathematical problems, many of which were published in the Mathematical Questions and Their Solutions from the Educational Times.

She assisted her husband, William Edward Ayrton, with his experiments in physics and electricity. In 1899, she was elected the first female member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. She was the first woman ever to read her own paper before the Royal Society of London.

Her daughter Barbara Bodichon Ayrton (1888-1950), named after feminist Barbara Bodichon, was a suffragette.

Further reading



Mathematics Encyclopedia

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