Agnes Scott College

Elizabeth Stephansen

Elizabeth Stephansen

March 10, 1872 - February 23, 1961

Mary Ann Elizabeth Stephansen received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Zurich in 1902. She was the first woman from Norway to receive a doctoral degree in any subject. Her thesis area was in partial differential equations. It was not until 1971 that another Norwegian woman, Idun Reiten, obtained a doctorate in mathematics. Stephansen taught at the Norwegian Agricultural College from 1906 until her retirement in 1937. She began as an assistant in physics and mathematics, then was appointed to a newly created docent position in mathematics in 1921. She published four mathematical research papers on partial differential equations and difference equations.

A extensive biography of Elizabeth Stephansen was written by Professor Kari Hag and Peter Lindqvist. This also includes description of her mathematical work.


  1. Hag, Kari and Peter Lindqvist. "Elizabeth Stephansen: A pioneer," (Viewable at NoExperienceNecessaryBook)
  2. "Mary Ann Elizabeth Stephansen," International Women in Science, Catherine Haines and Helen Stevens, Editors, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California, 2001, pp296-298.
  3. "Elizabeth Stephansen," Norwegian Biographical Encyclopedia (in Norwegian).
  4. Author Profile at zbMath
  5. Biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive