Hidden Figures — The Real Story
Posted on December 23, 2016 at 8:00 am
It was the 1960’s and the sign on the door at NASA read “Colored Computers.” That was not a reference to IBM’s Big Blue. This was a reference to the human beings, African-American women, who were doing the calculations for the space program. Margot Lee Shetterly, herself the daughter of a NASA scientist, spent six years researching her book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, now the basis for a film starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, along with Taraji P. Henson and Jonelle Monae. The Muse has an excellent interview with Ms. Shetterly.
There are always these first and only stories, where it’s like, the first black person to do this, or the first woman to do this, and we need those stores. They are super inspirational. But the thing that’s so exciting to me about this is that none of these women had to be the first or the only. Like the first white computer pool was five women, the first black computer pool was five women. Over time, each of those pools grew tremendously to prove over and over that women are very adaptive and have the right temperament, the right skill set, the right intellectual firepower for this work. That’s truly confidence-inspiring, because you don’t have to face the objections of like, “Yeah, well, there’s just one woman. We know that most women are like this.” It’s like, No, no, no. This is a revolution. The technological revolution that was the space race was carried out with two women and their mathematical talents, because of other women.
Here is the real Katherine Johnson.