One hundred years ago today, the Royal Astronomical Society elected women as fellows for the first time in their history. Despite awarding its Gold Medal to Caroline Herschel in 1828 and giving an honorary membership to Mary Somerville in 1835, it was not until 1916 that women were admitted to the RAS. Says the RAS in today’s press release:
Mary Adele Blagg, Ella K Church, A Grace Cook and Fiammetta Wilson became the first elected female Fellows of the RAS on 14 January 1916. Six more followed that year, including Annie Maunder, more than 24 years after her first attempt to join.
Dr Bailey [Astronomy Secretary] commented: “Early women astronomers fought hard to gain recognition for their work, to be allowed to join the RAS and to take part in scientific discussions. I am both grateful they did so and in awe of their determination to succeed. They paved the way for women today and many are tough acts for us to follow.”
As part of their year long celebration of this milestone, the RAS will be the Platinum Sponsor of this year’s Ada Lovelace Day Live!. We are looking forward to working with them over the coming months to highlight the crucial roles that women have played in astronomy over the centuries, and are honoured to be a part of such an important anniversary.