A History of Women in Astronomy Part 1

A talk by Mary McIntyre

Friday 27th January 2023


Mary said she had just had her 50th birthday and that she grew up in Lancashire in the 1970’s and she never heard the saying that she could not do something because she was a girl, this meant her parents were supportive of whatever she wanted to do.  She carried on her talk by speaking about gender stereotyping by showing an image of a father and son playing battleships whilst the mother and daughter were doing the washing up in the background, saying what message is that sending to your children, she then said that battleships were one of her favourite toys and that her brother hated it but she made him play it as she was the older sibling so he had to do as her was told.

Then she spoke about a female astronaut going to the moon to make it cleaner place for the men to live.  She then said about books being labelled for boys she said she would have read them to prove a point.  She said that she got her degree from an ex-polytechnic and she got a first and her male counter parts said that does not count that is call it a wally polly.

She then spoke about Caroline Herschel first female astronomer who was also the first female to get paid in astronomy, no this is true.  Then she went back in history to around 2,300BC in Samarian culture they record everything on clay tablets. Mary went on by naming the astronomer and when they were alive plus the many different struggles, they had working in astronomy with every woman she did show an image or sketch of the person and any other images related to the female’s life. She got on about the dark ages where we stamped out the knowledge, there were still some females working in the dark ages they were mainly scribes in monasteries.  Then she spoke about Hilda Gardner in relation to her husband subscribing to a beer box during the pandemic she is responsible for putting hops in beer, and in the book that was with the beer said about her migraines that she used to suffer from.   Then she got on about women not being aloud to study for a degree saying that ladies were not even permitted in the library.   Then she spoke about Sophia Braver her family want her studying astronomy, she showed a painting of her with a dog on her knee. Mary went on to mention other female astronomer stating when they were alive and doing astronomy with the many different things that each did do in the astronomy plus saying that it was not expected to do observing of the night sky.

Linda Moore