Minority Female Pioneers No Longer Hidden

2016-12-23-8110f3a7-5afc-480f-a073-e948fa7f8717

 

Hidden Figures is a groundbreaking film based on the lives of three phenomenal African American women truly made astonishing contributions to the STEM field with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the space race. The movie features the untold story of NASA pioneers, Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) who used their mathematician and physicist skills to help win the Space Race.

The Oscar-nominated film has received a great amount of recognition from the media, which has resulted in multiple nominations and top honors. Recently, the film took home awards and nominations during the 2017 NAACP Image Awards and Golden Globes. At the Golden Globes, Hidden Figures received a nomination for Best Original Score- Motion picture and Octavia Spencer received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. At the NAACP Image Awards, Hidden Figures was awarded the Outstanding Motion Picture award and actress; Taraji P. Henson received the Outstanding Actress for her portrayal of Katherine G. Johnson.

Hidden Figures is an inspirational movie and has an encouraging story that young minority women can succeed and study in STEM-oriented fields.

Although these women were trailblazers and powerful women of their time, they were not recognized for any of the skills they possessed until now.

They served as the brains behind the technical work of the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. They had a continued vision to fulfill and did not let racism overshadow their intelligence.

Johnson was one of three African Americans to desegregate the graduate school at West Virginia University and was also the only female selected by the West Virginia President Dr. John W. Davis. She went on to teaching in the local school district until she found out about open positions at the West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA’s). Some of her notable contributions include providing the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, completing the trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight and in 1962 at NASA she prepared the orbital mission for John Glenn.  Throughout Johnson’s lifetime, she has accomplished a great amount in her field and personal life. In 2015 at age 97, Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by 44th President Barack Obama and in 2016 she was awarded the Septima Poinsette Clark Award at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Boule Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Despite balancing their careers and professional lives these women still managed to have families of their own. Henson and Spencer both have children and exemplify the essence of what it means to be a career woman and a mother. Today, there is a program in honor of Katherine Johnson called “Future Katherine Johnsons” to celebrate and uplift young girls who have the desire to study STEM. Mrs. Johnson is an inspiration to young girls and wants to continue to encourage them to break barriers in this field.

 

Brianna Allen

BRIANNA ALLEN IS A SENIOR MAJORING IN COMMUNICATIONS STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN. A HOUSTON NATIVE, SHE ENJOYS WRITING AND TRAVELING. BRIANNA RECENTLY STUDIED ABROAD IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA. SHE IS ACTIVE ON UT-AUSTIN CAMPUS SERVING ON THE AFRICAN AMERICAN AFFAIRS LEADERSHIP TEAM AND IS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF DELTA XI CHAPTER OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED WHERE SHE SERVES AS THE IVY LEAF REPORTER.

 

Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.

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