NASA Figures revealed

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson with rocket in background

 

NASA has revealed key figures behind one of the most prolific launches in modern American History. As noted for Black History Month, the movie Hidden Figures is a true story about Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson who were responsible for the launch of astronaut John Glenn Jr. in 1983 along with the Space Race. This moment is critical for women in STEM especially black women who weren’t encouraged to seek education or compete on a job level with white males during the Civil Rights movement. We should explore how this historical moment came to surface, changed the face of women for STEM, and affect women of color in the workforce.

For starters,  black women weren’t  a primary factor of education or science until the Civil Rights movement. Fannie Lou Hamer pioneered the voting rights for Black women as well as all women of color and these three women mentioned above also paved the way for Black women in the sciences division. First, Mrs. Dorothy  Vaughn had a keen interest  in computers and was the head supervisor at NASA’s West End computing women’s lab for African-American women. During her tenure at NASA in the 1940’s, IBM was going to replace the women’s  lab as a “supercomputer” to perform math calculators for the Scout project as well as FORTRAN programming and became a supervisor of this program over a 28 yr storied  career.  Second,Mrs. Mary Jackson played a part in NASA as the first black female engineer who established a hiring program for all women at NASA who was interested in science and engineering career opportunities. Third,Mrs. Katherine Johnson is a brilliant math and physics wiz known as a “supercomputer ” who performed strenuous  math calculations for NASA that were crucial for the historical “Space Race” that included well-known launches  for astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn Jr. These women changed the face of intelligence as well as brilliance that was historic and groundbreaking with more moments to come.

In addition, the hiring  of women I the workforce was influenced by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt who established an executive  order in 1942 to end discrimination  for all women in the workforce. Along with these three special figures, women have made long strides in the workforce and education. There are over 20% of women who are entrepreneurs as well as graduating from colleges and universities at very high rates.Even though some women still face the hurdle of making less money than men, there are more options for women to choose  from besides being  a homemaker or a silent party.

Finally, the STEM program consists  of women who work in the sciences, math and engineering professions that been around for over 20 yrs. Now, there are programs teaching women,programming,math,as well as engineering internships around  the country. As a STEM graduate in MIS, I am proud to choose  a career that allows  me to use my cranium and solve everyday business issues and strive to make a difference  as much as possible.

Altogether,  these women have set the standard  on balancing career  and family while still being proud of who they were. Honestly,  this movie has been one of the best I have seen in a long time and portrayed these women with class and dignity in spite of adversity.  They are living proof  that there should never be limits to greatness.

Photo courtesy of http://now.howstuffworks.com/2016/12/23/5-cool-things-women-who-inspired-hidden-figures-accomplished

© 2017. Loren Techie. MS. I.T. All rights reserved.

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