Tech Women: Meet Math Whiz Wang Zhenyi From China’s Qing Dynasty

Tech Women Wang Zhenyi

They didn’t pay heed to what society told them, followed their interests and became pioneers in their fields. But who are they? ‘They’ are the gutsy tech women who broke all stereotypes and emerged victorious in a field where everyone thought it was difficult for them to make a mark. SheThePeople.TV & Femcyclopaedia by Kirthi Jayakumar bring you some of the coolest women in technology  all through December.

We kick off the series with Wang Zhenyi, the renowned scientist from the Qing dynasty in China. The bold woman startled the world with her acumen in mathematics, astronomy and poetry.

India Tech Women SeriesFamily

Born in 1768, Wang’s formative years were spent learning from her erudite family comprising her grandparents and her father.

It was under her grandfather’s tutelage that her interest started gravitating towards astronomy. Her grandmother introduced her to the world of poetry. Her father, on the other hand, illuminated her mind with subjects like geography, mathematics and medicine.

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Academic Accolades

  • Her article, “Dispute of the Procession of the Equinoxes”, propounded how equinoxes move and then how to calculate their movement.
  • She offered valuable insights into the number of stars; the revolving direction of the sun, moon, and the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Saturn.
  • Wang also went on to describe the relationship between lunar and solar eclipses.
  • She was capable of doing her own research.
  • In the field of Mathematics, Wang mastered trigonometry and was well-versed with the Pythagorean theorem. She described a triangle and the relationship between the shorter leg of a right triangle, the long leg, and the triangle’s hypotenuse all correctly.

”Men and women are all people who have the same reason for studying.”- Wang Zhenyi

A poet

Wang had a way with words too. Her poems revolved around the lives of ordinary people whom she would have met during her travels with her father. Some of her poems were a reflection of the wide gap between the lives led by the rich and the poor.

She left thirteen volumes of poetry, prose, and prefaces and postscripts written for other works.

Death and legacy

Wang died when she was only 29. But she left a long legacy of women’s education and rights. She had once said,”Men and women are all people who have the same reason for studying.”

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