Selma Soysal
The First Female Professor of Mathematics




She was born in Zonguldak. After completing her elementary education in Zonguldak, she went to Çapa All Girls’ Teaching School in Istanbul - a state boarding school- . Then she went to Kandilli All Girls' High School.

Selma Soysal
Selma Soysal


She graduated from Kandilli All Girls' High School. When she went to take the exam to enter Higher Engineering School with her father, there was no other girl in the garden waiting for the exam. Her father said to her, "Look, is there any other girl here? What will you do when you become an engineer? Go and take the exam for teaching school,” Thinking that she would not be a burden to her father if she went to a boarding school, she did not take the exam there, instead she took the exam for the Higher Teaching School.


Those who passed the exam of Higher Teaching School, could enrol at Istanbul University free of charge. She became a student at the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science of Istanbul University. Famous mathematicians Cahit Arf, Kerim Erim and Ratip Berker were her professors, which motivated her to become a mathematician.

Selma Soysal
Selma Soysal


She started to work as a lecturer at Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) and worked there until she retired in 1991.


She completed her PhD dissertation titled Hilbert Spaces with Cahit Arf as her dissertation advisor and became his first PhD student.

1949 - 1967

She conducted research at MIT in the USA and at the Royal Academy in London. There was no other female mathematician other than herself when she was at MIT. 1967 She published her book titled Real Numbers System.

1950 - 1951

Centre de Recherches Scientifiques bursu ile Paris Henri Poincaré Enstitüsü’nde dünyanın en iyi matematikçileriyle çalıştı.


She worked with the best mathematicians at Henri Poincaré Institute in Paris with the scholarship granted by Centre de Recherches Scientifiques.


When she earned the title of professor, she became the first Female Professor of Mathematics of Türkiye. In addition to ITU she also taught at Istanbul University, Aegean University Black Sea Technical University.


Selma Soysal who advocated that mathematics was a more suitable subject for women than men died as the best proof of this claim.