First Advisor

Paul Collins

Date of Publication

Spring 6-7-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing






Women in science -- History, Women in astronomy, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979), Harvard College Observatory



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 100 pages)


While women have had a profound impact in the world of science, they struggle to gain an equal foothold in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields today. This has led to considerable public and private sector efforts to recruit women into these arenas. In order to understand how schools and nonprofits engage today's young women in STEM studies, this account includes time spent both in high school science classrooms and with ChickTech -- a Portland-based organization that works to provide a pathway into tech careers for high school-aged girls.

A historical perspective reveals that modern women aren't treading into completely uncharted territory, in spite of the current disparity of representation in today's STEM arenas. This perspective is offered via an examination of the lives of a group of extraordinary women who worked in astronomy at Harvard College Observatory from the late 1800s into the 1960s. While several noteworthy women are discussed, the focus here is on Cecilia Payne, the first person to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy at Harvard, and one of the 20th century's greatest astronomers. A great many people have never heard of her . . . yet.


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