Quaker religion:

Maria Mitchell's father was a member of the Quaker religion. While the rest of the country in the 19th century considered women as third class citizens - Quakers believed men and women should be treated as equals. This is why Maria's father felt boys and girls should have equal education... and why her mother thought girls should be independent and seek professions. The Quaker beliefs greatly influenced her parents' views about equality among people, which had a very positive, empowering influence on Maria.