For day 12 of our Black History Month celebration, we recognize: Evelyn Boyd Granville!
Evelyn Boyd Granville was the second African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, and one of the first African American women to work as a computer programmer at IBM.
Born on May 1, 1924, in Washington, D.C., Granville attended Dunbar High School, where she was one of five valedictorians of her senior class. In 1949, Granville graduated summa cum laude with honors in mathematics from Smith College. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University in 1949, making her the second black woman to achieve such a feat.
After graduating from Yale, Granville spent a year as a part-time instructor at New York University Institute of Mathematics before becoming an associate professor of mathematics at Fisk University. In 1952, Granville began working for the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. as a mathematician.
In 1956, Granville accepted a position at the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), making her one of the first black women to work as a computer programmer. At IBM, Granville created computer software for NASA’s Project Vanguard and Project Mercury space programs.
In 1960, Granville relocated to Los Angeles to work for the Computation and Data Reduction Center of Space Technology, but ultimately, went back to IBM, where she was offered a position as a senior mathematician.
Beginning her career as a professor, Granville returned back to teaching in 1967 at California State University. Granville actively taught mathematics until her retirement in 1997. Throughout her 30 year career as a professor and beyond her retirement, Granville continued to encourage the study of mathematics.