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