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Women in Astronomy: An Introductory Resource Guide to Materials in English

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by Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College & Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

© 2008 by Andrew Fraknoi. All rights reserved. For permission to use, or to suggest additional materials, please contact the author at e-mail: fraknoiandrew {at}

This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive or scholarly introduction to the complex topic of the role of women in astronomy, but simply a resource for those educators and students who wish to explore the challenges and triumphs of women of the past and present. It's also an opportunity to get to know some of the key women who have overcome prejudice and exclusion to make significant contributions to our field. To be included among the representative women for whom we list individual resources, an astronomer must have had something non-technical about her life and work published in a popular-level journal or book. This explains why so many talented women are not covered; their work is mainly known through journals that students cannot read. Suggestions for additional non-technical listings are most welcome, however.

Table of Contents

1. Written Resources on the General Topic of Women in Astronomy

2. Web Resources on the General Topic of Women in Astronomy

3. Material on Some Specific Women Astronomers of the Past:

4. Material on Some Specific Living Astronomers who are Women:

5. Articles and Books about Other Individual Women Astronomers

1. Written Resources on the General Topic of Women in Astronomy

Armstrong, Mabel Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars. 2008, Stone Pine Press. Covers the lives and careers of 21 women astronomers, past and present, for teenagers and up.

Barlow, Nadine, et al. "Women in Astronomy: A Sampler of Issues and Ideas" in Mercury (the magazine of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific), Jan/Feb. 1992, p. 27. Ten pages of quotes, commentary, problems, and solutions; part of a special issue of the magazine, devoted to the role of women in the field.

Dobson, Andrea & Bracher, Katherine "Urania's Heritage: A Historical Introduction to Women in Astronomy" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1992, p. 4. A good review of the roles women played.

Ghez, Andrea & Cohen, Judith You Can Be a Woman Astronomer. 2006, Cascade Press. A picture book for children from grades 3 - 5.

James, C. "Edward and Mina" in Astronomy, July 2002, p. 46. Despite the title, this treats several women who worked at the Harvard Observatory.

Kidwell, Peggy "Women Astronomers in Britain" in Isis, Sep. 1984, vol. 75, p. 534.

Lankford, John "Science and Gender: Women in the American Astronomical Community" in his American Astronomy. 1997, U. of Chicago Press. 72-page sociological overview, with statistics.

Lankford, J. & Slavings, R. "Gender and Science: Women in American Astronomy 1859-1940" in Physics Today, Mar. 1990, vol. 43, p. 58.

Mack, P. "Straying from Their Orbits: Women in Astronomy in America" in G. Kass-Simon & P. Farnes, eds. Women of Science. 1990, Indiana U. Press.

Mack, P. "Strategies and Compromises: Women in Astronomy at Harvard College Observatory" in Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. 21, p. 65 (1990).

McKenna-Lawlor, Susan Whatever Shines Should be Observed. 2003, Springer. The story of five 19th century women who made contributions to astronomy and science; too bad the price from the publisher is inappropriately high for a popular book.

Rizzo, P. "Early Daughters of Urania" in Sky & Telescope, Nov. 1954, p. 7.

Rubin, Vera "Women's Work: Women in Modern Astronomy" in Science 86, Jul/Aug. 1986, p. 58.

Spradley, J. "Women and the Stars" in The Physics Teacher, Sep. 1990, p. 372.

Urry, C. Megan, et al, eds. Women in Astronomy: Proceedings of a 1992 Workshop. 1993, Space Telescope Science Institute.

Warner, Deborah "Women Astronomers" in Natural History, May 1979, p. 12.

table of contents

2. Web Resources on the General Topic of Women in Astronomy

American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Women:
A rich site with back issues of the valuable "Status" newsletter, a database of living women astronomers, legal resources, conference proceedings, and discussion of issues related to the role of professional women in the field.

Bibliography by Ruth Freitag:
A far more comprehensive and scholarly bibliography, organized by last name, of written articles on women in astronomy. Ruth Freitag's work was the early inspiration for the resource guide you are reading.

4000 Years of Women in Science:
Maintained by two women astronomers, this site includes brief information on women from many fields of science, not just astronomy. Their site ends with the start of the 20th century, but see also the much shorter "Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics" at:

History of Women in Astronomy:
The text and images from a slide set on women astronomers available from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Includes capsule biographies of women from Carolyn Herschel to Sidney Wolff.

The Woman Astronomer:
Debra Davis, a Colorado amateur astronomer, keeps this site and newsletter devoted to both amateurs and professionals.

Women of NASA:
Profiles of women who work for the US Space Agency, including a number of astronomers and astrobiologists. The profiles include personal statements that can be quite moving and inspiring.

Women at Work: A Meeting on the Status of Women in Astronomy:
Proceedings of a pioneering 1992 meeting with useful local and national perspectives.

table of contents

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