WWII pilot Hazel Lee

Hazel Lee

Hazel Lee loved to swim, play handball, play cards, and play pranks. And she loved to fly planes.
During WWII, the U.S. didn’t have enough male pilots. So the Women Airforce Service Pilots was created. And Hazel was invited to join.
Her job was to deliver aircraft to points of embarkation, from which they would be shipped to Europe and the Pacific. The group worked 7 days a week with little time off.
“I’ll take and deliver anything,” she said. Which was her attitude, work hard, get everything necessary done.
On November 23rd, 1944, flying in bad weather in North Dakota, she crashed with another plane upon landing. She passed away two days later, the last of 38 female pilots to die during WWII.

Jackie Mitchell strikes out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

Jackie Mitchell

Signed to a minor league baseball team in 1931, in what was one of the first professional baseball contracts given to a woman, Jackie Mitchell was only 17 when her team was set to play the New York Yankees in two exhibition games later that year. The newspapers laughed at the prospect of a teenage girl pitching against the Yankees. “The curves won’t be all on the ball,” one paper said of her famous sinking curveball. She “has a swell change of pace and swings a mean lipstick,” said another. But in the very first inning Mitchell struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, two of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport.

Because of continued sexism in baseball, the commissioner soon voided Mitchell’s contract stating that baseball is “too strenuous” for women, and Jackie ended up quitting the sport.

The short story of astronomer Williamina Fleming

Williamina Fleming

Williamina Fleming, circa 1890s

“We cannot maintain that in everything woman is man’s equal. Yet in many things her patience, perseverance, and method make her his superior.”
 
Williamina Fleming was in her early 20s, a recent immigrant from Scotland to Boston, and pregnant when her husband left her.
 
Responsible now to raise their son, she took a job as a housekeeper in the home of Edward Pickering, who was the Director of Harvard College Observatory.
 
As the story goes, one day when frustrated with the men he employed, Edward yelled out that “My Scottish maid could do better!” While said in jest, there was much truth to his comment.
 
Williamina was an advanced student while in Scotland. She was a pupil-teacher by the time she was 14 years old and continued to teach for five years until she got married.
 
In 1881, Edward hired Williamina as the first of what would become a famous group of Harvard Computers. All women, they studied the stars through glass plate photographs. Then only a few years later, while still not even 30 years old, Williamina became curator of astronomical photographs. This role came with the responsibility of managing a dozen women computers.
The work was a grind. Williamina wrote in her diary:

“In the Astrophotographic building of the Observatory, 12 women, including myself, are engaged in the care of the photographs…. From day to day my duties at the Observatory are so nearly alike that there will be little to describe outside ordinary routine work of measurement, examination of photographs, and of work involved in the reduction of these observations.”

Williamina become a prominent astronomer of her time, one of most prominent amongst women. She received many awards, earned numerous honors. She became the first American woman elected as an honorary member of the British Royal Astronomical Society. And she would go on to discover 10 novae, 52 nebulae, and 310 new variable stars.
 
Sources: https://bit.ly/2Nx8Sdd, http://www.projectcontinua.org, https://bit.ly/2PniPLZ