Per the Encyclopedia Britannica, Inge Lehmann was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1888. Lehmann attended a progressive high school that treated male and female students equally. This respect towards women students was quite unusual at the time, but it helped Lehmann to prepare herself for a successful academic career. In 1920, Lehmann got a candidata magisterii — the Danish equivalent of a master’s degree — in mathematics.

Lehmann soon began serving as an assistant to a professional seismologist — that is, someone who studies earthquakes and related phenomena — despite having no formal training in seismology herself. Lehmann’s work was intense. She was personally responsible for helping to establish Denmark’s first seismic stations — both outside Copenhagen as well as in Greenland (a territory of Denmark).

Lehmann found seismology fascinating and decided to go back to school to study it further. So, in 1928, she obtained her second master’s degree. That same year, Lehmann was chosen to lead the seismological department of the Royal Danish Geodetic Institute. In that position, Lehmann was responsible for running the newly established seismic stations in Denmark and Greenland. Lehmann used these stations to investigate a number of seismological questions. Among these, Lehmann was particularly interested in studying the speed at which seismic waves travel through different layers of the Earth.