Celebrate Pi Day with Mathematician Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Did you know? The first black woman with a Ph.D. in Mathematics was also a civil rights champion, overseeing the desegregation of her own high school.

By Channing Kennedy Mar 14, 2012

It’s March 14, which means it’s [Pi Day!](http://www.piday.org/) (For our readers whose nerdiness manifests in non-math arenas: [pi, or ?, is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter.](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi) This works out to be approximately 3.14, but not exactly; the true value has been being calculated for literally thousands of years, and has raised all sorts of questions about what a weird universe we live in. But for our purposes, 3.14 = March 14.) Since we’re talking about math today, let’s talk about a less inspiring numerical constant: the number of people of color and women in STEM fields. In 1999, black women made up [less than one quarter of one percent](http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/wmad0.html) of mathematicians; in 2009, only [two percent](http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/minwomen.cfm) of math and statistics doctorate degrees were issued to black women. The numbers aren’t much better for anyone who isn’t a white man, and in some cases [are getting worse.](http://cnsnews.com/news/article/declining-numbers-blacks-seen-math-science) And yes, the ‘overachieving Asian’ archetype is [more complex than it looks.](http://www.ams.org/notices/200608/fea-goel.pdf)