The 2017 film Hidden Figures highlights women of color at 1960s NASA. Now, learn more about their contributions and other work by female scientists of color
The upcoming film Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American women scientists – Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan – who were hired by NASA to calculate the trajectories of several space missions, including Project Mercury and Apollo 11. Thanks in part to their work, John Glenn became the first American to make a complete orbit of the earth, and the United States emerged as one of the foremost nations involved in space travel. They managed to play significant roles in the early history of American spaceflight, despite constant dealings with the racism and sexism that were prevalent in 20th century America.
Even today, female scientists consistently encounter a multitude of institutional barriers to continued, successful work in their fields. Female scientists of color must deal with these roadblocks and more, having to prove themselves again and again in the face of systemic sexism and racism. Despite these difficulties, women of color have held on to their passion and scientific dreams, and contributed major work to many different scientific disciplines. Highlighting their presence doesn’t just acknowledge the important research they’ve undertaken, or the vital steps forward they’ve made in their fields. It is just as important that we highlight their lives and accomplishments in order to inspire future generations of scientists. Here are the stories of ten female scientists of color who have made major contributions to their fields, including engineering, physics, biology, geology, and more.
Here are the stories of ten female scientists of color who have made major contributions to their fields, including engineering, physics, biology, geology, and more.