In this article, I consider the history of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) from its inception until the International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) held in 1969. In this period, mathematics education developed as a scientific discipline. My aim is to study the presence and the contribution of women (if any) in this development. ICMI was founded in 1908, but my history starts before then, at the end of the nineteenth century, when the process of internationalization of mathematics began, thanks to the first International Congress of Mathematicians. Already in those years, the need for internationalizing the debate on mathematics teaching was spreading throughout the mathematical community. I use as my main sources of information the didactics sections in the proceedings of the International Congresses of Mathematicians and the proceedings of the first ICME. The data collected are complemented with information from the editorial board of two journals that for different reasons are linked to ICMI: L’Enseignement Mathématique and Educational Studies in Mathematics. In particular, as a result of my analyses, I have identified four women who may be considered as pioneer women in mathematics education. Some biographical notes on their professional life are included in the paper.
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