Gisteren heb ik de prachtige film gezien Hidden Figures het waar gebeurd verhaal van de zwarte rekenmeisjes die alle berekeningen van de NASA deden om de raketten de lucht in te krijgen. Drie vrouwen staan centraal (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson) die een belangrijke rol hebben gespeeld. Aan het eind van de film zie je de echte foto’s van deze prachtige vrouwen die heel veel hebben betekend in deze alle white man world.
“Despite the odds, Katherine Johnson soon became the one writing her own equations. John Glenn himself said that if she reviewed the equations and numbers for his flight, then he felt safe and was ready to take off. She worked tirelessly, and eventually what started as a job running numbers through a calculator became the pathway to becoming one of the first women at NASA to co-author a research paper. In a time where the world of physics and spaceflight was run by white men, Katherine Johnson let nothing stop her.”
“Working beside Johnson throughout this journey was Dorothy Vaughn. She was hired as a computer after Roosevelt signed a law banning racial discrimination in public defense. However, black computers were still segregated in a separate wing of NASA’s Langley Laboratory. She was eventually promoted to lead the black female computers, making her NASA’s first black supervisor. She was given access to the whole laboratory, not just the segregated wing, and her intelligence and creativity were finally allowed to flourish. She worked with white computers on projects like writing a handbook about calculating machines. When engineers had difficult tasks, they would request her specifically to work on it. She went on to work in the desegregated Analysis and Computation Division and became an expert in FORTRAN programming. Her grace and resilience in the face of discrimination are as admirable as the hundreds of different coding and computing problems she solved. “
“One more woman’s story is featured in Hidden Figures: that of Mary Jackson. Jackson fought against so much prejudice in her life and still was so successful and inspiring. As a black woman, she was never taken seriously in her desire to become an engineer. She worked under Dorothy Vaughan as a computer but wanted more. She eventually achieved this dream when she was selected to work in NASA’s Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. To fulfill her duties in the position, she would need to return to school and take engineering classes. She was working full-time, so her only option was night classes offered at a local segregated high school. She took her case to the city court to fight for her ability to participate in an all-white class, and she won. She excelled in her courses and received her engineering qualifications. Jackson became NASA’s first black female engineer and went on to study the behavior of the layer of air around airplanes, writing around a dozen papers on the subject during her fruitful career. “