Poster Presentation Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting including HWWS 2013

Making visible the women who measured stars in Australia (#233)

Toner M Stevenson 1 2 , Andrew Jacob 2 3
  1. Museum Studies, The University of Sydney, Sydney
  2. Sydney Observatory, Millers Point, NSW, Australia
  3. Curatorial, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

In Australia a significant number of women were employed to measure, log and calculate the position of stars for the Astrographic Catalogue at Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth Observatories. This poster considers the social perception of the ‘nature ‘of women, the feminising of the observatory and the attitudes of the press to the employment of women in a scientific endeavour. It highlights Mary Emma Greayer who was employed as a computer in 1890 at Adelaide Observatory and Charlotte Emily Fforde Peel, a measurer and assistant computer from 1898 at Melbourne Observatory. Rather than an anonymous group of ‘women who measure’, it argues that individuals, such as Greayer and Peel, produced new research and had agency within the observatory not previously recognised as such.