Unheralded Women's Wednesday kicks off with Dr. Ann Bragg

Ann Bragg teaching in a classroom

No matter the subject field or line of work, it’s no secret that women are far too often overlooked by history textbooks, despite having major accomplishments. Unheralded Women’s Wednesday, a speaker series created by Dr. Michele Jeitler, is back again this semester aiming to help change that.

“I started the Unheralded Women’s speaker series after I watched the movie Hidden Figures [which focused on] the women who worked for NASA,” Jeitler said. “I couldn’t believe that I, as a female mathematician, did not know about these women and the important part they played in the space program. This got me thinking about what other women were out there in different fields that the world doesn’t know about.”

Dr. Ann Bragg, Associate Professor and Planetarium Director, is the first speaker for the 2019-20 academic year. She will be speaking on women in astronomy at noon, Wednesday, October 2nd, in Bartlett 150.

“In the early 20th century, numerous college-educated women were employed by the Harvard College Observatory to work with the ‘big data’ of their day — astronomical surveys consisting of images and spectra of hundreds of thousands of stars recorded on glass photographic plates,” Bragg said. “While few of these women went on to earn advanced degrees, their knowledge of astronomy was exceptional.”

Bragg said she plans to focus mostly on Henrietta Swan Leavitt, whose research laid critical groundwork for a variety of scientific advancements in her field, including accurate measurements of the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and the discovery of Hubble’s Law, the latter of which was the first piece of evidence contributing to the Big Bang Theory.

Other speakers this semester include Wenjing "Shirley" Shao at noon, Wednesday, November 6th, and Erin Zerbe at noon, Wednesday, December 4th.