Women and the US Naval Observatory

12 Nov 2009

From the OSR Blog

There are several women who have contributed significantly to science, particularly to the astronomical society. Their continuous efforts, bravery, and support have been and are still celebrated to this day in the scientific community. The following women have made significant contributions to the field of science as a whole.


There are several obstacles that these women had to overcome, one of which was gender discrimination. Unfortunately, this is still an obstacle that many women face in their professional careers, not just in science but throughout many fields. It has been said that there were significant salary differences between men and women during earlier years but documentation supporting these claims is difficult to find and its accuracy is difficult to prove. The purpose of these studies are to find out if there is truly discrimination towards women that results in a lower salary and how, if it exists, can it be proven.

Prominent Women

The following are prominent women who have worked in the Naval Observatory and devoted their lives to scientific discovery.

Isabel Martin Lewis – Isabel Martin Lewis was originally from Maine. She obtained her B.A. in 1903 and her M.A. in 1905. She was the first woman to be hired as an assistant astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Alice Mabel Gray – Alice was born in Chicago in 1881. She was a natural leader and non-violent rebel. She was considered socially awkward and was even sometimes mocked for her appearance. She disagreed with mainstream society’s view of women and sought to change it through her diligent pursuit of a career in science.

Other famous women in astronomy include Eleanor Annie Lamson, Hanna Mace Hedrick, Lucy Talbot Shipman , Elizabeth Brown Davis, Vera Marie Gushee, Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall, and Catherine DeMille Lewis, and others.