Movie review – ‘Hidden Figures’

The movie stars three African American women who worked for NASA and were instrumental in getting John Glenn into space.

Wait!

What?

How come we have never heard this before?

These women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were brilliantly, intelligent women HIDDEN. Confined to the basement of the NASA West office building, with no chance of advancement was hidden this group of women called Computers. As Computers they manually calculated the numbers for the NASA Engineers.

Full of many rules to follow these women have amazing intelligence with a desire to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Dorothy Vaughan was acting as this group’s supervisor but she was not being noticed or compensated for it. We see Dorothy through out the movie, take chances and learn the new IBM computer that NASA installed. Understanding that her and her ‘girls’ would no longer be needed with the new computer, she taught herself and her team how to run and program the computer. When NASA figured out they needed programmers, she was ready. Dorothy goes on to be the first African American women to be a NASA supervisor.

Katherine Johnson is chosen to go to the Space Task group as the most talented among the Computers. We follow her as she negotiates the position that she finders herself in, a African American women in a all male group. She stands out like a sore thumb. At first, she is shown no respect and has to overcome the men’s pride, prejudice, race and gender bias. She works tirelessly. She gains the men’s admiration as she solves the complicated math problems that the space program is facing. John Glenn himself even asks that Katherine be the one to go over the computer numbers before he launches.

I highly recommend this movie especially for middle school, high school, and adults. This movie is great to inspire girls to consider working in a technical field. Also, this is a great movie to facilitate discussing important topics such as race and gender biases. I watched this movie with my 20 year old daughter. We had a interesting discussion about how things were in the 1960’s verses how they are now.

 

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