Monday Morning Math: Gloria Ford Gilmer


Our mathematician today is Dr. Gloria Ford Gilmer, a pioneer in ethnomathematics (the study of the relationships between mathematics and culture).  Gloria Ford Gilmer was born in Baltimore Maryland, in 1928.  She studied mathematics at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where she was a student of Clarence Stephens, and where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1949.  Two years later she earned her master’s degree in math at the University of Pennsylvania.

She did ballistics research for the US Army, but soon turned to teaching.  She taught both high school and college students, eventually earning a PhD in curriculum and instruction at Marquette University.  Most of Dr. Gilmer’s research was in ethnomathematics.  She was particularly interested in finding mathematics in everyday places, and is known for her mathematical analyses of the braiding patterns in African American women’s hair. 

Dr. Gilmer was active in many professional organizations, and was a “first” for many of them. She was the first African American woman on the board of governors for the Mathematical Association of America, and the first woman to give the Cox-Talbot Address for the National Association of Mathematicians. In 1985 she, along with Ubiratan D’Ambrosio, Gil Cuevas and Rick Scott, co-founded the International Study Group on Ethnomathematics (ISGEm); she served as the organization’s president for 11 years. 

Dr. Gilmer passed away only a few months ago, on August 25, 2021.  The recently established American Mathematical Society’s Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship is named in her honor.

No picture here because I couldn’t find one without copyright restrictions, but you can see one on the site Mathematically Gifted & Black, where she was an honoree last year.  Every day in the month of February the site recognizes a mathematician – check out the 2022 honorees!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: