Hidden Figures: A Revolutionary Story

Hidden Figures is a movie that mainly focuses on three mathematicians who work for NASA by the names of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Katherine Johnson is a single mom who went on to calculate flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. Dorothy Vaughan goes on to become an engineer at NASA and Mary Jackson went on to become a permanent supervisor to the Programming Department at NASA. 

            To begin, women had just started entering the workforce in the 1960s due to World War 2. As it is known, certain jobs still discriminate and do not offer positions based on appearances. Hence, these women even obtaining such highly valuable positions during those times is an applaudable matter. Not only were they questioned because they were women, but their skin color was an additional factor. For example, at the very beginning of the movie, when the trio’s car broke down, a white officer came and questioned them. However, he was taken back once they told him where they worked. His response was basically that he did not expect NASA to hire people like “them”. 

            Moreover, Mary Jackson had a mathematics and physical science degree to become an engineer, however, she was told that she would never become a NASA engineer due to the fact that she was missing a few certification courses. The courses were only offered at an all-white High School and obviously she could not attend due to her skin color. Thus, she decides to file a petition to the court in order to receive permission to attend these classes and she goes to become the first African American NASA engineer.

            To continue, Dorothy is the manager and de-facto supervisor of a group of thirty black women, however, she does not have to get a formal promotion as a supervisor. She gets kicked out of a public library because she was found in a whites-only section. She ends up stealing a book and teaches herself about programming and starts training her co-workers as well. NASA learns about her new skill and promotes her to supervise the Programming Department. 

            Following, despite the important valuable positions these women had in their respective workplaces, they were segregated from the rest of their co-workers. Their unit was segregated by race and sex. For example, Katherine had to walk half-mile to use the colored people’s bathroom. Also, she was not allowed to attend meetings because of her gender. However, Harrison destroys the bathroom sign and allows her to attend the meetings. Furthermore, she is given a security pass during the day of the launch because she figured out the calculations for the capsule’s landing coordinates. Thus, she is the reason behind the successful launch.  

            To conclude, Katherine Johnson is the perfect example of a woman that is able to be successful at her workplace despite being a single mom. She never compromised her work for her kids or vice versa. She was able to manage both gracefully and excelled in both parts of her life. She set an example for her kids as a hardworking ambitious woman who did not need a man to provide for her. This can be relatable to many women in our society nowadays who may struggle with the dilemma of balancing work and family.  

Blog/Oral: Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain was born on 1961 in India. She is an environmentalist, a political activist and a huge contributor to the Green concept of sustainable development. She was born in 1961. She has studied in several institutions such as the University of Delhi and University of Calcutta which are both located in India as well as the Cranfield University which is located in the United Kingdom. 

I chose Sunita Narain because I believe that she is an inspirational woman that has contributed a lot to the society and her work should be given more recognition. Moreover, she is a successful Indian woman that has several accolades to her name which I would like to be one day. I find it rare to find an elderly Indian woman standing up to issues surrounding the environment and actually succeeding in bringing a change, therefore I admire her a lot. We are different in a very important way due to the fact that I am not passionate about the environment as much as she is. 

I decided to do my research about her because she has done a few remarkable works, however I didn’t know who she was up until this project. Sunita has brought awareness to the public about the need for sustainable development based on her studies on environment and development. She wrote an analysis on India’s water supply and pollution. She works as a researcher and advocate for issues concerning the global environment. Her main researches are based on global democracy while specializing in climate change in relation to the need of the local democracy which focused water related issues and forest resource management. She is the director at the institute of the Centre for Science and Environment which is India-based research, she is also the director of the society for environmental communications and the editor of the magazine, Down to Earth. Moreover, she has written several publications advocating local participatory democracy as the key to sustainable development, flexibility mechanisms, the need for equity and entitlements in climate negotiations. She also wrote several articles on the need of interventions concerning the eco-regeneration of India’s rural environment and poverty reduction. 

She has several accolades to her name such as the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediaperson, the renown Padma Shri by the Government of India, the Stockholm Water Prize, the honorary doctor of science by the University of Calcutta, the Raja-Lakshmi award and the IAMCR Climate change communication research in action reward. Last but not least, she was listed in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People. 

To conclude, she is someone that I consider inspirational because she several accolades to her name and she is a very educated woman in a country where a lot of girls sometimes have to fight for their right to education. 

Blog 3: the differences between the Indigenous and the Europeans

Based on the reading “Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period”, it can be understood that there are several gender relations in indigenous cultures. The text describes the cultures of both the colonizers (English and French) and the Indigenous cultures the colonizers encountered. Throughout the text, it can be seen that the Aboriginal societies function based on the matriarchal system. It was a big shock for the Europeans due to the fact that they function based on the patriarchal system. The Europeans found it hard to accept that women in the Aboriginal societies had great power. For instance, it is said in one of the passages that “ A man may promise you something and if he does not keep his promise, he thinks he is sufficiently excused when he tells you that his wife did not wish to do it. “European men thought that this signified women “ruled” men. They convinced the Indigenous that in France, men were the masters. Therefore, this can be seen as one of the main differences between these two communities.  One believes that women should take the main decisions, whereas the other doesn’t.

In addition, the Aboriginals practice more inclusive sex systems such as two-spirits. It is basically an individual feeling like a woman and a man. They take on feminine and masculine gender roles and wear a combination of feminine and masculine dress. It is explained in the text such as “in others male-bodied, feminine-gendered individuals assumed feminine roles and wore feminine clothing, while female-bodied, masculine-gendered individuals performed masculine roles and wore masculine apparel.” Moreover, individuals that are two-spirit can marry or have sexual relationships with either gender. This practice was considered normal and acceptable in the Indigenous community. However, it was not the case for the Europeans. They considered this “as unmanly softness and passive homosexuality”. They were unable to think past the ideology of a heterosexual relationship. As always what they considered as the norm had to be followed and if it was not, it was considered abnormal.

Therefore, it can be seen that the Europeans had trouble accepting the Aboriginals’ ways and systems due to the fact that it was not the norm for them. They considered it odd. Almost everything was that the Indigenous did was a contrast to the Europeans’ culture and customs. 

Blog 1: Discovering Feminism

According to Hooks, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, an oppression.” She believes that feminism isn’t about being anti-male, instead it is about sexism. In the same way, Valenti brings forth the same opinion as Hooks and she also believes that it isn’t about being anti-male, however it is about speaking up against basic issues concerning women and the inequality that they are faced with on a daily basis. Hooks took more of a subtle and professional approach in order to explain the issues concerning the stigma around feminism, whereas Valenti was very blunt and direct in her way of approaching the subject. She emphasized more on the myths around feminism such as feminists are usually lesbians. 

Based on both readings, I believe that a feminist can be either a man or woman that is willing to speak up about gender inequality concerning both sexes. They live their life based on the ideologies of feminism such as equal gender pay, equal household chores, equal rights,etc. Before this reading, I always thought a feminist was always a courageous woman that is able to stand up and question the gender stereotypes that she is faced with by her family, friends and coworkers. 

At the very beginning of Valenti’s essay, she puts a very common ideology that I’ve never thought my whole life but when I read it, the passage shocked me and put things into perspective. She first asks what’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Then, she asked what’s the worst possible thing you can call a guy? Both answers indicated that being a woman was considered as an insult. This section struck to me because it is something that occurs on a daily basis, however it taken lightly because it is normalized. Before the readings, I thought that a feminist was an individual that strictly followed all the ideologies that I have mentioned in the previous sentence, however after Valenti’s reading, I found out that a feminist is someone that feels strongly about  gender inequalities towards women and it was that simple as that.

Both authors have been faced with lots of criticism, however I really respect their ability to stay strong amidst it all. I find it really brave to put their views out there and continue to do what they love, despite getting criticized by strangers.