Nova's program about Sophie Germain describes her pursuit of math in the 18th century when women were discouraged or prevented from intellectual pursuit of any kind. The story of how her father confiscated her candles to prevent her from studying doesn't surprise me. Nor does the fact that she assumed a man's identity in order to study at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. What does surprise me is that when her mentor discovered her real identity, he was pleased and continued to teach her.
When Germaine reached a partial solution to Fermat's theorem, she contacted famous mathematician, Carl Fredrich Gauss, again using the male identity she had used to start at Ecole Polytechnique. When her real identity was revealed Gauss wrote to her:
But how to describe to you my admiration and astonishment at seeing my esteemed correspondent Monsieur Le Blanc metamorphose himself into this illustrious personage who gives such a brilliant example of what I would find it difficult to believe. A taste for the abstract sciences in general and above all the mysteries of numbers is excessively rare: one is not astonished at it: the enchanting charms of this sublime science reveal only to those who have the courage to go deeply into it. But when a person of the sex which, according to our customs and prejudices, must encounter infinitely more difficulties than men to familiarize herself with these thorny researches, succeeds nevertheless in surmounting these obstacles and penetrating the most obscure parts of them, then without doubt she must have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and superior genius.
It should be noted that the two most intellectual and well educated men in her life were the ones to accept her and her work.