The term 'ethnomathematics' was first used in the late 1960s by a Brazilian mathematician, Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, to describe the mathematical practices of identifiable cultural groups. Some see it as the study of mathematics in different cultures, others as a way of making mathematics more relevant to different cultural or ethnic groups, yet others as a way of understanding the differences between cultures. But perhaps the most powerful claim for the new discipline has been made by D'Ambrosio himself (quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 October 2000): Mathematics is absolutely integrated with Western civilization, which conquered and dominated the entire world. The only possibility of building up a planetary civilization depends on restoring the dignity of the losers and, together, winners and losers, moving into the new. [Ethnomathematics, then, is] a step towards peace. This makes ethnomathematics a rather unusual discipline, because it attempts to meld science and social justice.

This isn't something that sits comfortably with many scientists: science, they argue, is science, and trying to make it politically correct will only impede its progress. Some educators fret that teaching mathematics using an ethnomathematical approach reduces it to a social-studies subject that teaches students little about 'real' mathematics.

Others simply ridicule the whole notion: according to one disparaging journalist, 'Unless you wish to balance your checkbook the ancient Navajo way, it's probably safe to ignore the whole thing.'

But there are also many scientists, educators and commentators who see ethnomathematics - in all its definitions - as a legitimate discipline with plenty to offer the modern world.

Links for Women in Mathematics
Agnes Scott Biographies
Canadian Mathematical Society
Women in Math Project

Ethnomathematics on the Web
Mathematicians of the African Diaspora
Ethnomathematics on the Web [includes African, Asian, Afrian American, Euro-American, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American and Pacific Islander as well as sites listed by social categories]

Some additional sites:
First African-American woman PhD in mathematics?
NCCTM Columns: Incorporating the Mathematical Achievements of Women and Minorities into Schools