Thank you, Katherine, Dorothy and Mary! After seeing the movie “Hidden Figures” I was blown away. At the same time, I also felt pride and a strong desire to continue the work and look everywhere to find the right skills.
Thanks to Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan it was possible for NASA to win the space race against the Soviet Union in the early 1960s. But it was almost true that these three African-American women’s extraordinary skills were never put to use, because of their skin color and their gender.
When the head of NASA realized that his staff of white, male engineers did not have sufficient mathematical knowledge, he began to look for higher skills anywhere he could think of, despite the segregation of the times. There were many obstacles before they managed to find exactly the right people for the assignment.
These three women and their female colleagues were both bold and strong enough to show for the rest of us the way, even though they had the whole of society and their own workplace against them. Katherine had to run 800 meters to get to the nearest toilet for women of color. In order to advance within NASA, Mary had to study for an engineering degree on her own time, since engineering education was not meant for women. Or, quoting from the film:
“Karl Zielinski: Mary, a person with an engineer’s mind should be an engineer. You can’t be a computer the rest of your life.
Mary Jackson: Mr. Zielinski, I’m a negro woman. I’m not gonna entertain the impossible.
Karl Zielinski: And I’m a Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison camp. Now I’m standing beneath a spaceship that’s going to carry an astronaut to the stars. I think we can say we are living the impossible. Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?
Mary Jackson: I wouldn’t have to. I’d already be one.”
It is easy to feel horrified at how it was back then. But it also makes me think about the obstacles that exist today, and what it is that stops us from finding all the right skills that are out there. How will we manage to grind out the diamonds? It’s all about what channels we choose to advertise in. And what experience and skills we require in our job advertisements. Here, we all take the risk of missing out on the very best!
Therefore, it is important that we all are stay bold and strong, and that we use our will to seek out the right skills. Like NASA, we cannot afford to miss the hidden figures. So, thank you once again Katherine, Dorothy and Mary! Now it is our turn to take the baton.
Anna Carlsson Sigstedt
Communication Manager, MultiMind