Author: Sara Grossman
Source: Journal of Women's History, vol. 33 no. 1, 2021, p. 85-109. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/jowh.2021.0004
Publication type: Article
Abstract: This article uncovers the work of several groups of white women who acted as weather data collectors and meteorological calculators for the Smithsonian Meteorological Project, the first settler-operated national weather data collection project in the United States. Working with correspondence and institutional publications, I show how these women understood themselves as weather data laborers, how they utilized patriarchal power to navigate male meteorological culture and, finally, the ways they were met with resistance and erasure under that same system. I argue that although this appeared to offer a utopian opening for some women to enter scientific roles, weather data collection and calculation practices in the mid-nineteenth century were tied up in power structures which inhibited women's ability to practice environmental data collection and reduction, positioning masculine skills at the center of meteorological data labor and women's data labor at its edge.