John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2014 January 20 initial
 2016 July 31 current

    Among the shameful realms of science history is the treatment of 
females, and other declared subclasses, in the profession. Much 
occurred in an academic setting, at universities and laboratories. A 
small fraction of the women eventually became heros, touted as some 
supergirl in the associated science. There are many obvious examples, 
earning chapters or segments in present science history. 
    Behind these supergirls are legions of other women, who also made 
substantial improvements to humanity thru their work. but did not 
obtain proper status and recognition. These women commonly suffered 
discrimination, neglect, rejection, Today most are still lost from 
mainstream science history. 
    On and off since the spark of the women's movement of the 1960s 
there were efforts to highlight the role, or lack of one, in various 
professions. For sure immense progress was made, like in the 
government workforce and business careers. Much advance was achieved in 
the maths and sciences, too. There are now organized and influential 
groups dedicated to bettering the status of females in society. 
    Some of this effort dissipated under resistance from the ambient 
male-dominated world. Others failed from business or financial causes. 
Others, believe or not, went by the boards for want of support from 
empowered women. Others stuck it out and still agitate for awareness 
and equality of women.
    There is a more to do. In the United States the melding of women 
into the sciences and maths, or more generally the STEM disciplines, 
is largely propelled by government regulation. These come from all 
levels, from the national down to the local. 
    Shows, conferences, exhibits are commonly run nowayears to bolster 
women's confidence in entering and staying in various professions. On 
September 26 of 2013 was such a meeting 'Inspiring women in STEM', or 
similar title. Ir convened at the City University Graduate Center. 

Grolier Club
    Grolier Club is at 47 East 60th Street, Manhattan. The 60th St 
subway line runs in front of it, producing subtile vibrations in the 
building. It was established in about 1885 and named for a 1500s 
typographer Jean Grolier. He was a printer and publisher who also 
collected specimina of typographic works of his trade. 
    Grolier Club is one place which scientists do not think of looking 
for science activity. It promotes the art and craft of books and 
printed material. The exhibit does have incredible paper artifacts, 
some never before on public display! 
    Grolier's web is 'www.grolierclub.org', with details on its public 
offerings. There was with 'Extraordinary women' an other exhibit on 
the second floor, where the break and reception were held. 

    On 18 September 2013 the Grolier Club opened a flagship exhibit 
'Extraordinary women in science and mathematics'. It showed 32 women, 
from the early 17th thru the late 20th centuries, who while doing 
world-shifting work, were stifled by prevailing sexist society. 
    Dr Ronald Smeltzer was the chief curator, with other curators for 
specific bays of the displays. Many of the displayed items come from 
his personal collection. The rest were loaned to Grolier by libraries, 
universities, historians.  
    The very bays in the exhibit show almost wholly the achievements 
with little for illustrating the struggles and hardships of the women. 
The latter are described in a handsome book discussing all of the 
women with more biographical details. It's at sale at the lobby desk 
of Grolier Club for $37.82. This includes the sales tax. 
    The show was free of charge during open hours of the Club. These 
were generally 10AM-5PM Monday-Saturday. The Club is closed for 
certain holidays. The exhibit ended on November 23 with ardent hopes of 
preserving it thru modern media, such as DVDs. 
    Some of my colleagues noted that the exhibit by itself with no 
interpretation was hard to understand and that the book doesn't really 
cover the displays. The two, exhibit and book, work as a unit to 
portray the honored women. One alone can not give the full story. 

    The exhibit was on the ground floor of the Club, straight ahead 
from the street. The room is a church-like hall with three-story high 
ceiling with balconies on the long sides. The displays are in wall bays 
on the long sides, plus a couple table cases. 
    The floor was bare of covering, exposing for an rug in the center 
covering its parquet pattern. On the central rug, where visitors left 
coats and bags, was a long table with a few padded chairs. For 
presentations, like the symposium and Curie movie, the table was 
removed and chairs were set out in theater pattern facing the rear 
short wall. The podium and screen were placed there. 
    Lighting was a bit dim, as expected in a temple for knowledge and 
learning, yet entirely adequate for general mobility. The polished 
stone floor in the lobby sometimes threw off confusing reflections. 
Even then it was a matter of pausing for a second to sort them out. 
    The exhibit bays were top lighted. Their illumination was smooth 
and even with no deep shadows on the displayed items. Captions were in 
crisp easy-to-read lettering. Grolier IS an outfit for books and 
    I found it very handy to have a weak reading glass, of +1 to +2 
diopter, to make out details in the pieces and to read text on them. I 
got a cheap spectacles of +1.5 diopter. it really makes reading a lot 
less trying. 
    Restrooms were on the lower floor via a reflex stairs. They were 
of modern design with some ADA fixtures. An elevator works all floors 
of the building, including several nonpublic higher ones. 
    At the symposium a coffee break and post-show reception were served 
on the second floor in a much smaller gallery. The food and drink were 
so filling that the NYSkies astrosocial for the symposium skipped the 
own optional supper. 
    All crew of Grolier was utterly polite, cordial, welcoming, 
helpful. This caliber of service prevailed from the simpler clerks to 
the managers and scholarly team.
    I noticed one potential source of trouble. The entry steps were 
bare stone with no safety stripes. Two small signs on the entry doors 
warns that they can be slippery when wet. 
    The one and only sluggish action was the purchase of the exhibit 
book. The computer to record the purchase seemed way too clumsy and 
slow. I hazard this is a network or software situation? 

Collateral events 
    There were several walk-alongs of the exhibit by its curators. 
These were at first only in October. On October 30th Grolier posted 
two additional tours for November 13th and 20th. All tours were on 
Wednesdays at 1PM. I attended three tours and found them essential for 
a cohaerent sense of the exhibit. 
    There were a few members-only events, like on November 6th for a 
movie about Marie Curie, one of the women in the exhibit. I was 
favored with an invite for this event, which was an excellent 
depiction her life and work to discover radium. The audience munched 
popcorn and sipped wine. 

    Grolier Club held a symposium in conjunction with the exhibit on 
October 26. It featured four speakers discussing the status of women, 
mainly in the academic theater. They were:
    * Dr Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, historian and author
    * Dava Sobel, historian and author
    * Dr Paola Bertucci, Yale School of Medicine 
    * Dr Sandra Masur, Ichan School of Medicine
    The presentations were verbal with no visuals except for Sobel's. 
She displayed slides of women astronomers at Harvard College 
Observatory, plus many illustrations of astronomy topics. 
    The symposium was in the exhibit room on the ground floor. chairs 
were set out in theater pattern, to hold quite 100 audience. The 
speakers were at the rear end of the room where a lecture stand  was placed. 
The projection screen was on the left-rear corner of the room.             
    After the individual presentations, the four speakers sat in panel 
for Q&A. After that, we all went to the 2nd floor for the reception. 
    I do not try to capture each speaker's talk here. I compiled the 
assorted features of the exhibit, the symposium, and external dialog 
dealing with women in the STEM fields. 

    A fat one hundred audience turned out for the symposium, with 
extra chairs stuffed into corners for the last several arrivals. About 
3/4 of the delegates were women, mostly elders. All were dressed in 
collegiate or smart street garb. The men wore business suits except 
for one who looked like he came from his dockyard job. 
    Every attendee was thoroly professional in demeanor and 
manner. They spoke erudita mente about many fields of science 
academics, world issues. A few chatted together in French. 
    Almost every one was a scholar currently at a university, retired 
from one, working part time or independently. Many endured indignities 
for being female. Some know or worked with the 20th century women in the 
exhibit! They offered fascinating anecdotes about them. 
    While most of the banter and chat was about females in STEM. with 
copious examples offered from the many schools represented, there was 
some 'shop talk'. This was almost entirely in the medical and 
biotechnic fields, which I have little experience in. 

Legal sexism 
    A prime vehicle for discriminating against women in former ages 
was to invoke s legal barrier. This is an antifeminist rule, law, 
policy that put females in a lower status than males. The citation 
often banked off of a reference to an external regulation, with claim 
that it can't be violated. 
    An example is a college charter stating that only one female may 
be admitted for every five males. The second female before filling out 
five males is turned away. An other is that a female must have a male 
superintendent for certain laboratory work. The rule is in the lab's 
manual of practice and procedure. 
    These legal constraints paralleled those in the ambient society, 
like restricting certain occupations from women. In many cases there 
was no formal law but an in-house policy founded on the general 
climate about female employment. 
    The bulk of the legal sexisms were abolished with the federal 
legislation of the 1970s, such as Equal Employment Opportunity acts. 
These banned many forms of discrimination, annulling local and state 
laws, for facilities receiving federal funding.

Denial of access
    Traditionally female students weren't expected to do science, altho 
maths, They were not advised of or were discouraged from these 
classes. These were reserved for the male students. 
    In a traditional secondary school the boys were assigned to 
various shop class, for woodworking, metalworking, electricity. They 
were given chances to take chemistry, physics, calculus, trigonometry, 
earth science. They got permission to sit lectures at other science 
and maths places, such as colleges and musea. 
    The girls were funneled into homemaking, typing, stenography, 
bookkeeping, fashion, decoration. Girls wanting an electricity class 
were told it wasn't meant for them. The course was too hard and it 
didn't look good on their diploma.
    The result is that female students were unprepared fir careers in 
the technical fields and were unable to qualify for most college 
admissions. Sometimes, depending on the school jurisdiction, girls 
could get a lower valued diploma than boys, which further 
disenfranchised them in later life. 
    In collegiate education the debasement of women continued. They 
were expected to take soft majors: music, art, area studies, theater, 
psychology. They could enroll in certain technical classes such as 
geology and astronomy[!]. In older eras these were mostly descriptive 
and simple subjects, mainly memorizing a bunch of facts and figures 
with little 'science' in them and just about no maths. 

Unequal facilities
    After acquiring a career with a college, women were often given 
second-class service and facilities. They were assigned to the cruder 
offices, older equipment, low-rank crew, limited hours, scanty 
    A women missed out on assorted perks, like a close-in parking 
slip, discount theater ticket offers, invites to certain staff social 
events, closet or storage for work materials. 
 .  Many schools were once al-male colleges with features and fixtures 
only for men. When they went co-ed, accommodations for women were slow 
to appear. There would be no specific female restrooms. A women had to 
ask a male partner to mind her in a men's room booth. 

Structural sexism 
    This was, and still is!, a hidden form of sexism. This is the 
construction or furnishing of a facility that ignores the use or 
occupancy by women. It is usually the result of simply not considering 
that women will avail of the facility, it being intended only for men.  
    An example is a college lecture hall with steeply raked seats. It 
was built in an era when only men attended this school. Now the hall 
is used by both genders because the college converted to coed. Women 
in skirts or dresses who sit in the upper seats gave audience in the 
lower seats a distracting show. 
    One other example is a set of shared bicycles to save time going 
about in a large school campus. The bike is a male model, with the bar 
joining the saddle support to the handlebar bearing. The rider mounts 
it like a horse. A women in dress or skirt tangles yp around the bike 
saddle, possibly toppling over. Or she gives the campus a peep show. 
    And one more is a campus walkway passing over a basement machine 
room. The walkway has an open-grill deck to vent heat and air from the 
machines. Women in dress or skirt must clutch the garment tightly as 
they walk over this section. Else they turn into 'blown umbrellas'. 
    In these situations there was no deliberate intent or thought to 
exclude women. It was a matter of having no women to consider when the 
structure was built. When women came along they found the facility 
could not accommodate them. 

    Women were paid less, often by rule or formula, for the same work 
as a man. Often in the place of actually hiring a women, she was 
offered an unpaid assistant's job. She did the full work as an 
employee, as far as the school allowed a lady to do, but was not on 
the payroll. She may be only reimbursed by a clumsy procedure for 
certain expenses and supplies. 
    COmpensation often includes perks, like full membership in the 
faculty club and a spot in the faculty parking lot. Women had only a 
limited membership with fewer privileges, such as exclusion from 
entering certain rooms in the faculty clubhouse or from renting space 
in it for her own gatherings. 
    Lack of proper enrollment on the books also robbed the woman of 
later benefits. These include Social Security, pension. health and 
life insurance. 

    A collateral form of discrimination came from nepotism. In this 
system, it was forbidden to have several family members employed at 
the dame workplace. The intent was to prevent tangling work and home 
affairs, speciallu verticly in the corporate ladder. 
    Since the first employee at a workplace, like a college, was 
invariably a man, this excluded the prospect of female family from 
getting jobs at the same place. Daughters, wifes, nieces, all were 
barred from working so long as the prime male was on the books.
    Male family was also barred but in all too many cases there were 
ways to get around the rules, as by referring the newcomer to an other 
college needing new crew. Such professional courtesy was overlooked 
for the new woman applicant.
    Nepotism, or antinepotism, laws were instituted when scandals 
broke out about family members getting favored treatment in a company. 
They got promotions or better assignments, were weakly penalized 
for violations, exploited company property, and resources. 
    The motive was to keep family interaction out of business with no 
positive idea to shut out women. 
    Most antinepotism policy was abrogated when civil and human rights 
laws were enacted. Today it is illegal to inquire of a new job 
applicant about her (or his) home life. 

Gender schemers
    After the equal employment opportunity laws went into effect, and 
after state and local laws followed the federal lead, genderism waned 
on the formal platform. It continued on the personal level or in cells 
within the roof facility. 
    An individual official, from his upbringing, heritage, personal 
experience, tries to set aside females. He does this by tweaking the 
rules against women while staying on the compliance side of them.. 
    He may, for example, issue a lower evaluation to a woman because 
her work wasn't quite up to standard. He pretneds to randomly draw a 
name for a single new promotion and the man's name came up. He doesn't 
submit a woman's grant application, saying it went missing. 
    One speaker at the symposium, forget which, cited a female 
professor who received passable ratings but not up to her work 
performance. She left that job went thru transgenderation, and took a 
new job as a man. altho her work was quite the same level as before, 
he got better evaluations. 

    In spite of the rising trend for women to aspire to and acquire 
careers in formerly all-male fields, they are still treated as 
homemakers in a household. At home she usually must do the housework, 
care for children, cater to the men, as if she now has two distinct 
and competing careers. 
    Time, travel, expenses associated with homelife press against the 
professional obligations. The woman may have to leave work on time to 
do supper for the male household, retrieve children from school or 
pre-K, go shopping before stores close. 
    An other issue is that when a woman defers family planning to 
enter a profession, there is often a day when she feels the lack of 
her own offspring. If she begins her own family, she takes on, maybe 
without fully realizing it, that the new second career with all of its 
conflicts against the primary one. 

    Most 'big science' is done in teams of several principals. This is 
all the more so nowayears due to the need for scarce or expensive 
resources, which must be shared among far too many applicants. Unless 
a woman is on a team, and on it as an equal with the men, she may miss 
out on references, recognition, honors. 
    A person in a team gets noticed far more often than a solo 
principal simply because each citation of the team includes her, even 
if the citation didn't purposely notice her. 

Other factors 
    The breaks, reception, and followup correspondence educed several 
other factors that inhibit female integration into a male society. 
Here I note only one, one that I personally see in astronomy. In the 
young years, women, and men, start to travel about by themselfs to 
places of interest away from home and school. Until then they travel 
by conveyances handled by adults, like the school bus or family car. 
    In the larger towns they can go about on the transport network, 
using allowance or earned money for carfare. It is a fact of life that 
in just about all of America, except in the very most evolved and 
progressive towns, there is no functional transport system. If you can 
not handle a car by age, medical cause, physical defect, poverty, your 
life is horribly constrained. While this situation prevails for the 
whole population, it seems to be specially severe for young women. 
    If the household does not favor self-motivation for its female 
members, it can show up in denial or delay in providing transport. The 
boys routinely get rides to their places of interest, like clubs and 
sports. The females too often are left out because giving them the 
ride violates the antifeminist mindset. Women are effectively isolated 
from opportunities to prosper and nourish their interests. 
    Where there is a strong transport system young women can navigate 
on their own. Women in such towns do advance on the equal level as 
men. If you, regardless of gender, are old enough to reach the token 
slot on the turnstile, you're off to explore the world. 
    The lack of mobility to explore STEM, and other interests, at an 
early age, puts the women years behind men in preparation for later 
attempts. They may lack the extra-credit activities in their college 
admission that men can routinely cite.  

EEO laws
    One of the benefits of the Johnson presidency, setting aside other 
aspects of it for now, is the stack of civil and human rights laws it 
put into force. Later presidents, to a 'man', continued this trend to 
either expand the existing laws or enact new ones. 
    The legislation is recta mentea a derivative from the civil rights 
movement and other social upheavals of the 1960s. These included the 
agitation for acceptance and recognition of women. 
    Collectively they are commonly called 'equal employment 
opportunity' laws, partly because employers receiving any federal 
funding had to prominently pot in job notices the phrase 'an equal 
opportunity employer'. As the initial laws were elaborated and new 
ones went into force, the scope of equal employment spread to many 
other phases of the workplace. 
    Today the US Equal Employment Opportunity office handles generally 
all forms of workplace discrimination and unfair treatment. It doesn't 
cover for itself all forms, but it is a good first stop to file a 
complaint. What it can't handle, because the relevant law assigns 
jurisdiction else where, the EEO office will pass the complaint to 
that other agency. 
    States and local governments commonly supplemented the federal 
regulations for facilities in their jurisdiction, regardless of 
federal funding. At first this may seem to be a good feature of 
present American society but it can lead to confusion. It is almost 
necessary for the workplace to maintain an EEO unit, perhaps in the 
human resources department, to field employee complaints and handle 
them under the appropriate regulations. 
    Some workplaces, like colleges, tried to evade EEO requirements by 
giving up their federal money. This was not at all easy because these 
colleges growed used to the largess over the years and did not plan 
for any shutoff.
    As a matter of fact, the federal closure of October 2013 kicked 
the shins out of many colleges duly expecting funding to start in the 
new fiscal year. When none ws forthcoming due to the closure, many 
anticipated programs were cancelled. 
    In my own office my crew must sit and pass a annual class in equal 
rights and prevention of sexual harassment. Part of the lesson is 
knowing about the deck of laws, both federal and specific within an 
agency, that govern genderist behavior. Failure to sit and pass this 
class is noted for the next performance evaluation. 

Affirmative action 
 -----  ---------
    A second tier of regulations, federal and lower, to promote women 
in STEM are the Affirmative Action laws. These push to give redress to 
past inequities and achieve a more balanced mix of men and women in 
these fields. The rules apply to other careers, too. Some employers 
note that they observe affirmative action in their publicity.. 
    Unlike EEO laws, AA laws call for positive steps to remove the 
depressed representation of women. EEO for the most part puts a stop 
to this suppression, but don't require making up for it. 
    The specific actions required are often negotiated by the employer 
and the administer of the applicable AA regulation. The college puts 
up a plan of action, like more purposefully recruiting at female 
schools or modifying campus facilities to adapt them for women's 
needs. The plan has the force of a contract in some jurisdictions.               
    The AA plan usually has meterstones by which progress can be 
assessed by the administer. These are stipulated in the plan in a way 
that can be monitored by submitted reports, inspection of records, 
campus visits, surveys of the workforce. Falling short of the plan's 
meterstones can result, depending on the instant situation, a more 
diligent exertion on affirmative action, administrative penalties, or 
judicial remediation. 
    Affirmative action has been a contention among both women and men 
because some see it as an interference with the due process of 
academic career management. The news media are filled with allegations 
of misapplication, moving along unqualified persons, withholding 
opportunity from others outside the plan, cooking the books, and other 
shady deeds. In some cases, a court was called in to review the AA 
plan, with some finding it too onerous or severe. 

The extraordinary women
    I do not try to summarize the displays for all thirty-two women 
in the exhibit. The exhibit book does that. I do sketch out the work 
of a few women to get you going with your own explorations into women 
in STEM. . 

    One of the 17th century women was Maria Cunitia, also Marie 
Cunitz, as the exhibit carried here. She was a mathematician who 
worked with Iohannis Hevelius in the mid 1600s. I knew of her as an 
assistant to Hevelius, thinking she lived in or near his observatory 
in Poland. She did a lot of the computations associated with the star 
catalog Hevelius built. 
    From the exhibit I learned much more, yet we really have scanty 
hard information about her. She corresponded with Hevelius, doing 
'telework' for him. She and her family suffered wars and fires that 
destroyed her papers and property. 
    The major surviving work is her book 'Astronomia Propitia' or 
'Favorable astronomy'. It was on display and is available as scanned 
pages thru Internet. It looks very complicated but it's mostly tables 
of numbers for trigonometry, coordinate conversions, and Kepler theory 
of planets. 
    The curator was unsure about a question I asked. Altho Hevelius 
used telescopes for studying the planets, He used bare-eye sightings 
for astrometry in his star catalog. It made sense in the mid 1600s to 
do this because telescopes were so awkward and clumsy and so crude in 
optical quality. Any position measurements made thru them would be 
worthless. I believe, hardly certainly, that Cunitia advised Hevelius 
not to try astrometry thru telescopes but to stay with doing it by eye 
alone. Can any reader help with this conjecture? 

    Emilie duChatelet was a physicist in the early 1700s with, among 
other things did the first translation of Newton's 'Principia' from 
Latin into French. She also explained the maths in it as a companion 
volume. The pair of books brang France into the mainstream of Newton 
gravity theory, prompting other mathematicians to develop new 
applications and interpretations. 
    She also conducted experiments with combustion and fire, as part 
of an essay contest for the French Academy of Science. She found that 
radiant heat and light from flames shared many properties and 
behaviors. This suggested that light and heat could have a common 
nature, a fact ultimately confirmed in the mid 1800s. 
    She was also the first to clarify the interaction between gravity 
energy, kinetic energy, and momentum, parameters only loosely handled 
in science in her time. They are crucial for a sound practice of 
modern astrodynamics. Yet even today most people have no understanding 
of 'energy' and 'momentum' as seen in descriptions of vehicle 
collisions and sports plays. 

    Rosalind Franklin studied DNA via X-ray diffraction and found 
there was a peculiar shape to the molecule unlike ay other biological 
molecule. Her apparatus and analysis didn't quite resolve the 
    She insisted that a proper solution to the DNA had to come from 
rigorous interpretation of data. Crick & Watson were doing similar 
work by building models of the DNA. They checked the model against the 
behavior of DNA. 
    At the 50th anniversary celebration in 2005 of their breaking of 
the DNA code one of their original models was displayed at SIBL to 
promote a series of lectures there. It standed next to the reflex 
stairs leading to the lower gallery floor. 
    Franklin changed careers and left her material in her lab, 
including an X-ray image of DNA. When Watson came to take over the 
work he saw this picture and realized it showed why their models 
didn't quite fit. he and Crick did up the double helix structure based 
on Franklin's picture. 

Harvard women 
    At the symposium Dava Sobel gave a tight and thoro history of 
stellar astrophysics based on the women at Harvard College 
Observatory. She ended with Payne-Gaposchkin, who is in  the exhibit. 
    The use of women at observatories was common in the late 19th and 
early 20th century as 'computers' and data collectors. They worked in 
teams to inspect photographic plates, measure position and brightness 
from them. The data was then handed to the men to build their theories 
and discoveries. 
    They also did the computations, like for eclipses and dynamics of 
star clusters. FOr critical work two or three teams did the same 
problem and were cross checked every so often. f there was a 
discrepancy among them the work stopped and the error was rooted out 
and corrected. 
 .  Harvard College Observatory was part of Harvard University, 
Cambridge MA, but operated independently. By this good fortune women 
there were better treated than in the main college, thanks to the 
good graces of the observatory directors. 
    While the women were not severely mistreated or exploited, they 
were paid only a small salary or stipend for expenses and had little 
role in managing the facility. 
    I call Sobel's presentation the 'AAVSO talk'. At every annual 
meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers you can 
count on at least one talk about the Harvard women. AAVSO for many 
decades was homed at the observatory. It maintains today a close 
cooperation with it and the spinoff Center for Astrophysics. 
    AAVSO keeps a deep history of variable star astronomy, so much of 
it pioneered by the Harvard women, at its headquarters about a 
kilometer from the observatory. 
    Sobel introduced the audience to many concepts of astronomy, some 
of which I explained during the break and reception. This task was 
made easier since so many audience were active in the sciences. I 
could build on their background to untangle the astronomy. 

    Lise Meitner worked with Otto Hahn, a male chemist, in Germany. 
She for herself earned a professor career and her own lab facilities. 
She studied the decay of elements into other elements and also 
artificially induced such disintegrations with neutron bombardment. 
    Germany turned hostile to her, along with thousands of other 
scientists, forcing her to flee and settle in the United States. She 
and Hahn eventually discovered that the new elements came from the 
actual splitting of atoms when they disintegrated. She coined the word 
'fission'. The date of her publication with this term is often taken 
as the zeropoint of the nuclear age. 
    The Nobel Prize went only to Hahn with no mention of Meitner. A 
magazine article, in the display, about nuclear science erroneously 
stated that Meitmer worked under Hahn, not an equal partner with him. 
    Eventually both Hahn and Meitner were honored by naming newly 
created elements after them, hahnium and meitnerium. 

    Ceclilia Payne-Gaposchkin worked at Harvard College Observatory in 
the early 1900s. She was among the last of the 'Harvard women' and the 
first female to earn a full PhD from the university.  
    Her great work was proving the chemical and physical makeup of 
stars. By spectrometry since the late 19th century the stars were 
known to have most of the chemical elements found on Earth. We just 
assumed the mix of elements was comparable to Earth's. 
    The means of generating the light and heat from a star was utterly 
unknown and no ordinary, and extraordinary, method worked. If a star 
was a burning ball like coal, it would have consumed itself in a few 
thousand years. 
    Payne-Gaposchkin applied the emerging quantum physics, until then 
passed over by mainstream astronomers, for new interpretation of 
stellar spectra. The spectral structure indicated the presence of an 
element. She discovered that it also gave the fraction or percent of 
the elements, 
    She found that a star is made of 3/4 hydrogen by mass, 1/4 helium, 
and only 1 or so percent of all of the other elements. This was not at 
first accepted by male astronomers. 
    When eventually the composition was verified else where the road 
was cleared to work out a plausible energy production process by 
hydrogen fusion. The egredient helium weighed a bit less than the 
ingredient hydrogen. The missing mass was emitted as radiant energy. 
The amount of hydrogen conversion for the Sun, as example, was enough 
to give the observed light and heat received at Earth. 

Delicate particle logic
    Apart from the Grolier exhibit and events, activity relating to 
the status of women in STEM takes place else where in New York. It is 
a mainstream theme for art, conferences, lectures. One was on 
September 26 at the CUNY Graduate Center sponsored by the Feminist 
Press. It was an all-day conference 'Inspiring women in science'. I 
missed it because at the same time in the Center I was attending the 
Tristate Astronomy Conference. I picked up some litterature about the 
women's meeting at the lobby desk. 
    An other women-in-STEM event was on 4 December 2013, also at the 
CUNY Graduate Center. It, a play reading 'Delicate particle logic', 
was in the series of science interpretations in the Science and the 
Arts program. The instant one was the final show of the 2013 fall 
    'Delicate particle logic' tied in tightly, by chance coincidence, 
with the 'Extraordinary women' exhibit for its dramatizing of Lise 
Meitner and Otto Hahn. Meitner was one of the honored women in the 
exhibit who probably was passed over for the Nobel Prize in the favor 
of Hahn. 
    The play paralleled the Meitner bay in the exhibit in that she was 
wrongly treated as a subordinate under Hahn and a subclass of crew in 
German laboratories. Near the end of the play Hahn justifies his sole 
award of the Nobel Prize by citing news items about Meitner. I'm not 
sure but one could have been from the magazine displayed in Meitner's 
    The Science and the Arts shows are acted out by Break-a-Leg 
players, who do minimalist staging. The show has almost no props 
except for a couple chairs and tables, no scenery, no apparatus, and 
no costumes. The actors may keep one role thruout the play or swop 
roles for occasional parts. 
    They hold the printed script of the play and read directly from 
it. The overall effect is actually very good. Perhaps, for me, it 
makes the audience pay closer attention to the narration without 
distractions from elaborate stage effects. 

Home astronomy 
    Home astronomy is the sector of our profession practiced by 
independent astronomers, outside the academic setting. In the 19th and 
20th century they banded into clubs, with most larger American towns 
having at least one. Being that traditionally astronomy was handled by 
men, the clubs were almost entirely oriented toward men. 
    Women had the traditional lesser regard there as in the 
surrounding society. A woman joining these clubs was often treated in 
an adolescent manner, with contrived concern and care. T This was 
reflected in the dialog and behavior at club functions 
    At first it  may seem that the clubs are outside the civil rights 
principles. They operated like private groups, which are commonly 
exempt from laws applying to publicly promoted services and 
    In fact clubs of home astronomers can, often without recognizing 
it, be embedded in federal, state, local regulations about human and 
civil rights. 
    Clubs usually need a place to meet or stargaze. A prime place is a 
public facility such as a park pavilion, museum, library, college, 
planetarium. For sure these obtain part of their support from funding 
wrapped in human and civil rights obligations. When availing of the 
facility, the club insumes the obligations of that host. For legal 
purposes the club can be treated as an extension of the host, 
    The host deliberately arranged for the club to use it like any 
other contractor. In the same way that a contractor can not  engage 
in sexist behavior, the astronomy club can not carry out actions 
against females. 
    The host can suffer miserable legal damage if the club's use of 
its facility is informal with no executed agreement or, worse!, it is  
the favor of an individual of the host acting on his own. 
    A peculiar situation applies to clubs which are unorganized, not 
covered by a corporate or business charter in its home state. All 
liability, lawsuits, penalties, jail time, falls on the individual 
officers of the club! This is a little-appreciated fact for smaller 
clubs, who mistakenly believe they are some how exempt from such 
    An incorporated club has the same obligations as a giant company 
licenced in the state. It has no alternative but to adhaere to the 
raft of human and civil rights laws. If the incorporated club does 
substantial business across state borders, like one close to a border 
within a metropolitan area, various federal laws may also apply. 
    Clubs should straight off review their internal policies and 
procedures to specificly remove genderism, and other antisocialisms. 
It must publicize the correct rules to its membership, set up dispute 
processes, and post meaningful penalties. While these measures will 
not avoid a lawsuit, they can soften the court's punishment. 

Grand exceptions 
     While the stereotypical American astronomy club is an male-
dominated group, there are marquee exceptions. In these exceptions 
women members are equal to men and receive the same respect and regard 
as men for the same level of service. 
    American Association of Variable Star Observers, noted under 
'Payne-Gaposchkin' above, is homed in Cambridge MA, about a kilometer 
from Harvard College Observatory. It nonce was homed at the Observatory 
and most of its early crew came from there. Variable star study was 
the domain of the women at Harvard, making for a female-oriented 
membership. OF course, any one could join from any where, but the 
management was dominated by women. 
    It still is today altho it has its own headquarters away from the 
college. It still has a close cooperation with the newer Center for 
Astrophysics at Harvard. And its annual meetings, in or near Cambridge, 
are run by its own women and many from that Center. 
    The other major exception are some astronomy clubs around New York 
City, Yes, there are male-oriented clubs there but they can not 
control the female astronomer. She simply ups and allies with one of 
the more progressive clubs across the road. 
    One example is NYSkies Astronomy Inc on Manhattan. It is immersed 
in a climate of tolerance for all peoples and enjoys an high order of 
demographic diversity. Females enter astronomy thru NYSkies 'off the 
street' as an extension of their wiseliness about the City. 
    An other example is Amateur Observers Society on Long Island. The 
Island is a crazy-quilt of social norms. Some 'cells' enjoy a thoroly 
urbane and humane mindset. Others are frozen in mediaeval attitudes. 
The cells are numerous and small enough to easily cross over to more 
favorable ones. The club gets its females from the propitious cells. 

Paperless future
    This exhibit, and almost all other historical exhibitions, are 
crucially dependent on the existence of hard evidence. Else there's 
nothing to display! Until the 1960s it was a given that you had to 
carefully document your work thru paper products: reports, worksheets, 
notebooks, tabulations, graphs, photographs, and the like. These were 
preserved at the host facility for its records and to defend against 
    When an exhibit was planned, the host could lend it some of the 
physical material. This was the case for 'Extraordinary women' where 
libraries, universities, laboratories supplied items for display. 
    During the walk-alongs the curators expressed, and so did the 
visitors, the dread that within a few decades there will be no more 
permanent artifacts for future shows! Just about all science today, 
even this here summary of the Grolier show!, is done in evanescent 
electronic form. 
    Can you foresee a show where in the place of a lab worksheet we 
display a microchip? The caption claims the datafile backing up the 
person's work is in this chip. You can make printouts of select items, 
but these will be on modern paper in modern ink, not a relic from the 
time of the honored person. 
    In fact, in one bay, I forget which, the curator pointed out that 
Grolier could not find a certain book desired for the exhibit. By good 
luck a digital scan was done years ago into a PDF file. That was in 
the display bay! It was so awfully out of time and place. 
    A corollary problem is that electronic media change on timescales 
of decades or YEARS. Files stored in media more than 15 or so years 
old may no longer have players to extract their contents! If you got 
files on the older 130mm floppy discs, can you now find a disc drive 
to play it? Most new computers do not have a floppy drive and external 
USB external drives are hard to find. The same story applies to laser discs, 
35mm photo transparencies, audio wire recordings, punch cards, 
    This is a severe problem for long-life operations. NASA has 
warehouses full of tapes and cards and discs from the early years of 
the space program. They were written and played on computers that are 
simply no longer made or serviced. Just about all of the players were 
junked, for replacements that can not handle the old media. 
    In my own case, my first home computer used audio cassette tapes 
for file storage. The digital bytes were converted in the computer to 
a screeching noise piped to a cassette deck attached by audio cable. 
Not only do I no longer work this machine but cassette players are gone 
from stores. I likely will never retrieve the material written into 
the old cassettes. 
    The fear is real.

Looking back
    For women less than 40 years old the stories of discrimination and 
margining may seem weird. While such activity persists it is orders 
less severe than what their older female associates went thru. 
Reconstructions, like the Grolier show, go a long way to educate 
current women, but they can seem biased and prejudiced. 
    How can we illustrate, live and, sometimes, in living color, what 
times were like decades ago? 
    I see one killer method. One is the emergence of nostalgic or 
vintage television programming. In New York this is 'Antenna TV', now 
on channel 11-2. These stations are scattered across the country under 
various local names and channels. 
    They broadcast shows from the mid to late 20th century! The 
permissions were duly obtained from the authors and producers. Perhaps 
the best specimina of bygone treatment of women are in the 'family' 
serials. The household is paternal to the core, with the women in 
subordinate roles.
    Watching how women in these shows fared can be a real eye-opener 
for the young women of today! They may take deep offense at the 
language, gestures, attitude, largely contrary to feminist interests. 
    One way to tell these shows are nostalgic is to watch the ads.  
They promote services and products for elder and senior audience! Even 
here, many push homemaking devices catering to women. 
    In some shows the original ads are left in place, probably too 
hard to remove?. Many of these ads feature products presented in a 
openly sexist manner. 
    Recordings of these TV shows  can be a jumpoff to explain and 
explore the world of degraded women. 
    An other  look-back method is old magazines and newspapers for 
stories and ads relating to women. This method requires access to such 
material, likely in a library archive. The publications may be on 
microfiche or microfilm rather than in hard copy. 
    More and more early print material is now archived in webs where 
the articles can be saved or printed. I do warn that some of the 
material can be, by today's women standards, disgusting and revolting. 
Yet it was the cotidian litterature of its era. 

Tracing a theme
    'Extraordinary women' had a once-in-lifetime spinoff. In its one 
room you could trace many threads in the advance of science and maths 
by studying selected bays. For the NYSkies Seminar on 2013 November 
15, discussing the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, the astronomers drew 
on duChatelet for light, heat, radiation; Meitner for nuclear 
reactions; Payne-Gaposchkin for the predominance of hydrogen and 
helium in stars. 
    The bays aren't ordered by time but by broad subject: physics, 
chemistry, maths, astronomy, medicine. It was feasible to trace these 
subjects thru the honored women, filling gaps in time or activity 
along the way. Curie, both Marie and Irene, knew that artificial 
elements can be made by neutron beaming of certain atoms but they 
didn't understand why this happened. Meitner, in the adjacent bay, 
showed that the atoms split into these other elements. She 
coined the term 'fission' to describe the process. 
    Science and maths are interconnected across disciplines in 
historical times as now. You had to skip around the exhibit bays to 
follow a theme. 

Nelma Garcia 
 ------- --
    In 1975 I had the blessing to meet a young women Nelma Garcia on 
an astronomy tourist trip. I was then, with the late Donald Trombino, 
among the first tier of astronomers to operate public tours for 
eclipses and observatory visits. Ms Garcia was one of about thirty on 
the trip under our care. 
    She then lived in northern New Jersey.  After the trip Ms Garcia 
came to astronomy club meetings on Manhattan. She became active in the 
astronomy clubs and worked on several committees for them. 
    Nelma was already a scholarly woman, traveling for learning  and 
enlightenment.  She showed keen interest and strong ability  in many 
worldly matters. These included civic affairs, astronomy and science, 
languages, culture, art & music. 
    Her profession then was an executive secretary at Grolier Club. 
She often greeted her new astronomy friends there. From her Grolier 
Club work she developed a profound love of books, litterature, and 
history, which she abundantly shared with me. 
    In the cradle years of the feminism, she voiced annoyance and 
anger at the treatment of women, including instances for herself. She 
placed into me the seeds that such a world against females is terribly 
wrong. She hoped that in our lifetime we can move toward parity of men 
and women. By 1977 she and I bounded into a lifelong love. 
    She moved to Chicago in about 1979, taking her second career at 
Adler Planetarium. The planetarium was deeply impressed by her skills 
and interest in astronomy, as developed thru her tenure with New York 
astronomers. She left Adler in about 1990 and circulated thru several 
residences in the Chicago and other midwest regions. 
    This 'Extraordinary women' exhibit at Grolier Club pushed me to 
let Nelma know about it. By asking ancient friends, I discovered she  
recently moved back to northern New Jersey! I sent her the exhibit 
book and some fliers.
    Ms Garcia was not in the planning, assembling, staging of 
'Extraordinary women' and its collateral events. Yet this show was her 
show  in the very tangible sense. As I inspected the exhibit and 
attended its associated activities there was, like a water-mark, her 
name every where. This show validated her life, and my life with her,  
for shifting the world toward a more equable treatment of women. 
    We aren't yet at that ideal goal, the goal so much a part of 
Nelma's vision. 

    The Grolier exhibit is now closed with as yet no positive 
assurance of preservation. It was a meterstone show that only a 
generation ago could not be favorably fielded. 
    It's main purpose was to portray and document women over the ages 
who made society-shifting progress under miserable circumstances of 
    You really needed both the viewing of the displays and reading the 
companion book. Together they round out the stories of the 32 women 
honored in the exhibit. If the exhibit is captured, such as in a DVD 
or permanent website, young females considering to enter the STEM and 
 can learn that their current struggle isn't as terribly chancy as 
their predecessors's. They can also learn there is much more to 
accomplish by them to bring a thoro removal of artificial genderism. 
    Collateral benefits of the show are source materials for lessons 
in the several disciplines. At the NYSkies Seminar on November 15 the 
audience learned about the Harvard women's work with the Hertzsprung 
Russell Diagram. It was reminded of duChatelet and Payne-Gaposchkin in 
the exhibit. Similar lessons can be exercised at meetings of other 
groups, like a chemistry club or maths club. 
    Some of the honored women were 'standard' fare for talks and shows 
about female scientists, like Curie and Hopper. Others are imperfectly 
appreciated even by seasoned scientists like duChatelet and Cunitia. 
    It can be argued that the very women in the exhibit weren't 
absolutely necessary for human progress. Their work would have been 
accomplished within years or decades by 'real' scientists, the men. 
This is trvialization and marginalization, a hideous practice that is 
sometimes not recognized in early stages. 
    The greatest lesson that it is plain crudelity to arbitrarily shut 
out sectors of people. The society that welcomes the whole spectrum of 
humanity into it is the society that excels in progress and 
 Capriciously inhibiting its people corrodes the society 
into stagnation and decline.