The Contributions of Women to the United States Naval Observatory: The Early Years.

One of the greatest obstacles to professional success for a woman in science in the late 19th and early 20th century, was the pressure put on her by society. Ancient folklore and even the current "scientific" research concluded that women should avoid education. One such "scientific study" conducted by Dr. Edward Clark of Harvard in the late nineteenth century concluded that the intellectual development of a woman would proceed only at the sacrifice of her reproductive organs. If a woman did pursue an education and a career, then married, she was expected to resign her position to become a full-time wife and mother. If an educated woman married a man in the scientific community she was expected to resign her position in order to assist her husband in his career. In fact, the career of a male scientist was usually greatly enhanced by assistance from his wife in the same field, although the woman received little or no credit and compensation for their contributions.

Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall

A prime example of this occurred at the USNO with one of our most prominent astronomers, Asaph Hall who discovered the two moons of Mars. Hall was fortunate enough to marry Chloe Angeline Stickney, a woman who had been his mathematics professor in college.
During their days together as teacher and student, Hall and his classmates would devise questions and problems that they were convinced Miss Stickney could not solve, yet she never failed to solve them.
Angeline Stickney gave up her career to marry Asaph Hall, she took an active interest in her husband's career. In fact it was she who petitioned Captain Gilliss via letter to promote her husband to Professor of Mathematics. Captain Gilliss embraced this suggestion, replying to Mrs. Hall that she could hereafter address her husband as "Professor" Hall. Asaph Hall himself acknowledged the contribution his wife made to his success in astronomy when speaking of his discovery of Demios and Phobos; "The chance of finding a satellite appeared to be very slight, so that I might have abandoned the search had it not been for the encouragement of my wife." However Mr. Hall drew the line when Mrs. Hall demanded a man's wage while she assisted her husband in his computations, when he refused her, she refused to continue that work.

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