A few weeks ago my friend, Sarah, texted me about a movie that would soon be coming out that she thought we would both enjoy: Hidden Figures. I was happy to report to her that I had the book in my possession and was excited about it (I hadn't even heard anything about a movie!)
Margot Lee Shetterly's book is a fascinating look at the lives of black women who were hired as computers (human mathematicians) who helped send men into space.
Shetterly focused on the lives of four women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, who were part of the workforce hired for their minds and ability in math. These women left jobs teaching in the South, one of the best jobs an educated African American woman could get, to move to Hampton, Viriginia, where they worked for the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. While there they performed mathematical operations that helped in the design of aircraft, and in the design of rockets, eventually being a part of sending the first man to the moon.
Over the decades these women worked at Langley, their contributions were never recognized. They still remained separate from their white co-workers in many ways, yet their contributions were very important.
I loved learning about the lives of these women. In addition to their jobs, they were mothers and wives, with interesting childhoods and backgrounds. I also loved the time period Hidden Figures encompasses and the way the work these women did intersects with names we have grown up learning about in our science and history books. These women provide another piece of the puzzle in the space race.
Hidden Figures is a book that should appeal to a wide audience: non-fiction readers, memoir lovers, those with an interest in science especially will enjoy this book, but I also can see book clubs finding this book worth talking over as well.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Hidden Figures. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.
Hidden Figures is published by William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. Click here to visit Harper Collins' website.