A Harvard Professor's Maid Ends Up Taking Over Astronomy
In 1879, the director of the Harvard College Observatory was Edward Charles Pickering, so even if this story goes south for him, at least he has a delightful name. Back then, most astronomy work consisted of something called "stellar classification," where you'd look at the patterns that starlight forms after it passes through a prism, and then analyze it to figure out the star's composition, temperature, favorite kinks, etc. Sadly, a lot of the people Pickering employed were total scrubs. Fed up with their general scrubbery, Pickering turned to one and said, "My Scottish maid could do better!"
OK, biographers disagree on whether he definitely said that exact line, but that's certainly how he felt, because he really did suddenly offer the job to his Scottish maid. This maid was Williamina Fleming, who'd come to Massachusetts from Dundee with a husband (who immediately abandoned her) and a small child. Pickering brought her to the observatory for clerical work, then for spectral analysis, and in time she became head of all the analysts there.
By this point, Pickering had fired all his men and replaced them with women, which sounds woke today, but was really done because they cost less to employ. But the professor also had the theory that women were just generally better-suited for this sort of "drudgery." The analysts were known as the Harvard Computers, and were also affectionately referred to as "Pickering's Harem," a title they surely appreciated.