Mileva Maric: The Forgotten Einstein
One of the most famous men that ever lived is Albert Einstein. However, not many people know that he had a wife, much less a very intelligent one. Mileva Maric Einstein has been cheated by history. The few people who had heard of her considered her to be nothing more than Albert’s wife. Nevertheless, there is more to Mileva Maric than marriage and motherhood.
Mileva Maric was born to a wealthy family in Titel, Serbia. During her early education, Mileva’s teachers noticed her intellectual gift and suggested that she be taken to a more elite school. Mileva’s parents enrolled her in an all-male secondary school in Zagreb. There, Mileva received an evaluation of “Brilliant” from her physics teachers. Determined to further her education, Mileva moved to the only German-speaking country that permitted women to go to university: Switzerland.
The love story of Mileva and Albert began at the Physics-Mathematics section of The Polytechnic institute in Zurich. She was the only woman in the Physics-Mathematics section, where Albert was a student. The two ingenious students became inseparable: studying together, eating together, and challenging each other mentally. Albert once said, “I’m so lucky to have found you, a creature who is my equal, and who is as strong and independent as I am!” Despite the disapproval of their families, Mileva and Albert went ahead to get married and build a life together.
Upon her marriage to Albert, the intelligent Mileva Maric settled in the role of a caretaker and domestic worker. Albert’s research had taken precedence over everything else. Between 8 children and a genius husband, Maria no longer found time to pursue her interests. Most women can agree that once the kids come, they never seem to catch a break from the chaos. However, Mileva Maric was the most important academic contribution to the work of Albert Einstein.
Aside from being in charge of his domestic affairs, Mileva worked on Albert’s research by his side. Einstein himself testified that Mileva played an active role in the discovery of the theory of special relativity. He wrote in a secret letter to Mileva, “How happy and proud I will be when the two of us together will have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion.” Yet, Mileva’s intellect went unnoticed. With grief, she wrote to Albert, “How could you be so careless with my heart?” Albert had not only left her name out of the patent but had also destroyed the original manuscript that held proof of her contribution.
Scientists today speculate that Einstein’s marriage to Mileva was one of convenience. Some letters of Albert Einstein were discovered and auctioned at Christie’s in New York. One of these letters read, “A. You will see to it (1) that my clothes and linen are kept in order, (2) that I am served three regular meals a day in my room. B. You will renounce all personal relations with me, except when these are required to keep up social appearances.’’ And: ‘’You will expect no affection from me…you must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to.”
Regardless of the turbulent end of her career, Mileva Maric achieved great feats through her intellect, and even from her younger days, Mileva showed the potential for a promising future. With determination, Mileva persevered at her male-dominated university and became the only woman in her year, and the second woman in history to graduate from the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich.
Certain factors stood in Mileva Maric’s way of becoming a great scientist. If not for her gender, I believe that she would be regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Her being a woman limited her options for higher education. Also, her devotion to Albert Einstein led her to shift her focus from her career to his. Mileva spent so much energy making life easy for Albert that there was no time to concentrate on her affairs.
Many women in the workplace can see themselves in Mileva Maric: contributing to the meetings and voicing contract-winning ideas, only to be remembered as “the woman in the corner.” Even Mileva Maric’s alma mater is still a male-dominated school. He who controls the pen controls the truth. It is about time that women take the pen from society and leave a story worth reading for the next generation of girls, one that will inspire a generation of change.
Anonymous. “Mileva Maric-Einstein.” History of Scientific Women, https://scientificwomen.net/women/maric-einstein-mileva-62
Troemel-Ploetz, Senta. “Mileva Einstein-Maric: The woman who did Einstein’s mathematics.” Womens’ Studies Int. Forum, Vol. 13, №5, Lancaster, Pergamon Press plc, 1990, pp. 415–432.
Vujovic, Ljubo. “Mileva Maric.” Tesla Memorial Society of New York, https://www.teslasociety.com/Mileva.htm
Gagnon, Pauline. “The forgotten life of Einstein’s wife.” Scientific American, 19 December 2016, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-forgotten-life-of-einsteins-first-wife/#:~:text=