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.