Have your maid do it

There are many women in science that you have probably never heard off. Partly there were of course fewer women allowed to be active in the sciences for a long time and there is general an issue related to lack of signature (not just in the sciences, but also the arts, etc), where the work was ultimately signed by a man.

Williamina Fleming’s story is particularly telling to me due to the way her achievements came about: Edward Charles Pickering, an American astronomer, reportedly became increasingly frustrated with the performance of his male staff and would say “my maid could do better”. And indeed she did. Fleming became the leading astronomer of her day, starting in 1881. She was also a founder of the Harvard Computers, an all-female team of human computer.

I don’t think I need to explicitly point out the moral of this story. But let’s just say that it could apply to anyone who is pigeonholed into a specific role due to their gender, colour, culture, or religion.

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