Forgotten Women in STEM: Ann Katharine Mitchell

Ann Katharine Mitchell

After my article on the “Matilda effect” (click here to read it), I decided to write stories of forgotten women in STEM. Last week I wrote about dr. Cecilia Payne, an astrophysicist who suggested for the first time that the stars are primarily composed by hydrogen and helium (click here to read it).

The second episode is about Ann Katharine Mitchell, who started her career at the Bletchley Park with Alan Turing.

Her life

Ann Katharine Williamson was born in Oxford and studied mathematics there, against the “advice” of her headmistress, who believed that maths was not a proper subject for a lady to study. She graduated in 1943 and was immediately recruited to work at Bletchley Park.

Her career

She worked in Hut 6 with Alan Turing and the Enigma cypher between 1943 and 1945 (she was just 20 years old!!!!). After the war, she was prohibited to talk about her job and she kept the secret for more than 50 years.

Ann Katharine worked then as a marriage guidance counsellor and graduated with a Master of Philosophy in 1980. She studied divorces and children’s experience of family breakup and worked at the Department of Social Administration at the University of Edinburgh.

Her work at Bletchley Park was awarded with the certificate of service.

Books

She wrote books on:

  • her work in the Hut 6: “he Bletchley Girls: War, Secrecy, Love and Loss: The Women of Bletchley Park Tell Their Story
  • divorce and children’s experience: “Someone to Turn To: Experiences of Help before Divorce“, “When Parents Split Up“, “Children in the Middle“, “Coping with Separation and Divorce“, “Families
  • the history of Edinburg: “The People of Calton Hill“, “No More Corncraiks: Lord Moray’s Feuars in Edinburgh’s New Town

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