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  • Karen Frost

Introducing the Lady Adventurers: Georgette Martin

The final member of the Lady Adventurers Club is Georgette Martin.

Georgette was born in 1893 in Paris, making her the youngest of the Lady Adventurers. She is the eldest of three children, the daughter of a banker. She was precocious from birth, displaying a photographic memory and a sharp intellect. Finding herself particularly drawn to mathematics, in 1911 she completed her degree in Mathematical Sciences at the Faculté des Sciences de Paris. Her career progression was stifled out of the gate, however--in the early 1900s, women in France were barred from pursuing a doctorate in mathematics, meaning she was barred from both further education and from teaching at the university level. As a workaround, she spent two years teaching at Bethune College in Kolkata, India, hoping that in the meantime this policy would change. When it didn't, she returned in 1913 and got a job teaching math at the just-established Lycée Jules-Ferry, a French secondary school for girls in Paris. In 1920, she joined the faculty of the Lycée Molière, where she is still a teacher when the book begins in 1923. Georgette has an Aspergers profile, and displays some (but certainly not all) of its symptoms: she monologues during conversation, is intensely interested in numbers and obsessed with facts, misses social cues, has no friends, thinks literally, has trouble reading interpersonal relations, dislikes being touched, has muted facial expressions, is asexual, is emotionally immature/naive, and has an unusual speech pattern. (Note: Georgette does not display many of the more "hallmark" symptoms of Aspergers, such as being unable to make eye contact, stimming, having major sensory issues, having mood disorders, etc. In writing a neurodiverse character, as is true of a character from any minority group, there is the risk of upsetting some members of that minority community, who do not feel the representation is accurate. In this case, two of my closest female friends have been diagnosed with Aspergers, and one of them has acted as my sensitivity reader. If there is anything incorrect about this portrayal, it is my hope readers will forgive it as a sincere best effort. And speaking of sensitivity readers, two Frenchwomen read for Georgette's Frenchness.)

Georgette is friendly, optimistic, and fashionable. She views the world in black and white, and can have a keen sense of perception (unless it involves romance!). She has a few unexpected tricks up her sleeve, proving that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Although she is inexperienced with friendships, she's a good friend with a strong sense of loyalty. The real life inspiration for Georgette are actually four women. These are:

  • Geneviève Guitel (1895-1982): A French mathematician. She was appointed a math teacher in 1920 and taught at the Lycée Molière.

  • Édmée Marie Juliette Chandon (1885-1944): A French astronomer. In 1906, she completed her degree in Mathematical Sciences at the Faculté des sciences de Paris. She was the first Frenchwoman to obtain a doctorate in astronomy and geodesy and the first to join the Société mathématique de France.

  • Marie Charpentier (1903–1994): A French mathematician. She was the first woman to obtain a doctorate in pure mathematics in France, and the second woman to obtain a faculty position in mathematics at a French university. Even in the 1930s, she couldn't obtain a faculty position in France, and so had to work as a teacher at the high school level. She was finally appointed to a faculty position in 1942.

  • Marie-Louise Dubreil-Jacotin (1905-1972): A French mathematician. She was the second woman to obtain a doctorate in pure mathematics in France, the first woman to become a full professor of mathematics in France, and an expert on fluid mechanics and abstract algebra. Jacotin was the daughter of a lawyer for a bank.

The visual inspiration for Georgette is the Spanish soap opera actress Aria Bedmar, who is openly queer and has a very fine, delicate face.

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