history of poc in math and science

How three black women helped send John Glenn into orbit
A new film, Hidden Figures, tells the story of the maths wizards who Nasa relied on
By Edward Helmore

When John Glenn was waiting to be fired into orbit aboard Friendship 7 in 1962, there was one person he trusted with the complex trajectory calculations required to bring him down safely from his orbital spaceflight: Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked in Nasa’s segregated west area computers division.

“Get the girl, check the numbers,” Glenn said before boarding the rocket. “If she says they’re good, I’m good to go.”

Johnson was one of three female African-American mathematicians known as the “computers in skirts” who worked on the Redstone, Mercury and Apollo space programmes for Nasa. Now, thanks to an award-tipped movie, Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan are about to become more widely celebrated.

The film, Hidden Figures, stars Taraji P Henson of TV series Empire, soul singer and actress Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer from The Help movie, and Academy Award winner Kevin Costner.

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I teared up a few times watching Hidden Figures, but I absolutely lost it at the end when they included all their accomplishments and showed the real-life photographs of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson because these women 

deserve recognition, they deserve respect, and they deserve to be honored and given a name in U.S. history. They deserve all this, and so many WOC deserve to hear their story and be inspired knowing that they can become brilliant figures in the fields of science, mathematics, and anything they set their minds to. 

tenaflyviper  asked:

If you're taking very small girls to an adult comedy film looking for heroes for them, there's something very wrong with you. If you're a grown woman still needing fictional characters to validate your existence--or if you need a fictional character to do something before you believe that you're capable of doing the same--there's also something very wrong with you.

1. I totally expected to get some haters for the love that I’ve been giving to the new Ghostbusters film. One look onto the asker’s blog and a quick perusal onto their likes and it’s pretty obvious that, whoever this is, they’re all aboard on the “Hate the new Ghostbusters” train. That’s cool. Clearly, it didn’t float your boat. Contrariwise, there are many a folk who enjoyed this film.

2. Note how the asker only made mention of “very small girls.” First and foremost, I leave it to the discretion of parents when taking their kids to films and for the parents to decide if a film is age-appropriate for their children. Second, I find it amusing that the asker didn’t make mention of boys. It reminds me a great deal of the vocal naysayers who went to town on the reboot Ghostbusters by saying that it was (and I quote) “ruining their childhoods.” Hm, by not making mention of taking little boys to this film, the asker infers that they are of the male persuasion and in the subset of dudes who get upset because girls and women of all ages get a movie with great female role models.

3. Girls and women of all ages need to see themselves represented in mainstream media. If you, asker, are a white male, then you will always be able to see yourself represented in mainstream media in a positive, non-sexualized light. 

Also, I find it funny that the asker was perfectly happy to mock me by suggesting that an adult woman has something inherently wrong with her, if she has one or more fictional characters as a role model or if she relates to fictional characters. Yet, if the roles had been reversed and this had been a film with an all-male cast, the asker would not be mocked for projecting themselves onto one or more of the characters. Why is it so wrong for adult women respond well to female fictional characters, particularly ones who are treated with respect by their creators? Would the asker have said that there was something wrong with me for relating to a fictional character if I was a man?

4. In general, REPRESENTATION MATTERS! Women are grossly underrepresented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields and three of the four female protagonists are in the STEM field. POC need to see themselves portrayed in all manners of roles, not just the ones based on racial stereotypes. In Ghostbusters, two characters (a main female character (an MTA worker/historian with a working knowledge of the full history of New York who provides excellent context as to why things are happening where they are) and a supporting male character (a Homeland Security agent)) are African-American and a minor though hilarious supporting character (delivery dude) is Asian-American. Another of the main female characters is played by an openly-gay actresses (who plays her role with heavy implications that her character is queer). 5.  Anecdote time - the second time that I saw this movie, there were at least two dads who were taking their sons (neither of whom could not have been more than eight or ten) and, at the end of the film, both sons looked at their dads and proclaimed how much they liked the film and that they thought it was hilarious. In one case, the dad spent the entire time quietly explaining to his son things that the kid might not have understood. In the other case, the son told his dad that he thought that this movie was the best thing he’d ever seen. At no point did I head either of these young men complain about the movie. I’m not sure if either one had seen the 1980s Ghostbuster films prior to this, but it still speaks volumes that this will be the first Ghostbusters movie they will have seen in theater. Given their positive reactions to it, it can be inferred that they took away the notion that, yes, women of all ages can be funny and smart and heroes. 

Above you will see little girls at the Ghostbusters premier, both dressed in costume. Take a look at their faces and at Kristen Wiig’s face. Tell me that this film is truly awful. Tell me that it shouldn’t have been made. Tell me that the looks on their faces don’t make it worth it. 

“well if cultural appropriation is bad, why don’t you go off the internet and leave behind all sorts of technology because you’re appropriating white culture.”

-POC have been actively kept out of Western education systems
-Thriving civilizations have been destroyed by western colonialism
-A lot of inventions by People of Colour are not valued by Western civilization
-POC inventions and discoveries have been erased out of history
-POC paved the way for all sorts of technology by inventing systems of science, maths, astronomy et cetera
-A lot of western art was inspired by non-Western countries / civilizations

Like these whites are so full of themselves that they think they invented and discovered everything? EVERYTHING??? 

Bitch, you all learn that you “discovered” Australia and America, and that you “explored” Asia and Africa, if you have to lie about discovering whole (already inhabited) continents to make your race feel better what makes you think that your histories on inventions and technology aren’t biased too??

How history forgot the black women behind Nasa’s space race
In the 1940s, a group of female scientists were the human computers behind the biggest advances in aeronautics. Hidden Figures, an upcoming book and film tells their remarkable, untold story
By Emine Saner

Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Margot Lee Shetterly was surrounded by brilliant female scientists and mathematicians who, like her father, worked for Nasa. “I would see them in the context of community organisations or church, or you’d run into them at the grocery store – they were my parents’ friends,” she says. It didn’t seem unusual to her that, within her community, so many women had enjoyed long careers at Langley, Nasa’s research centre – and so many of them were black women. It was her husband, on a trip back to visit Lee Shetterly’s parents, who pointed out how remarkable it was.

In 1940, she points out in her book, Hidden Figures, just 2% of black women got a university degree and more than half became teachers. But a few defied all expectations and obstacles and joined Naca (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which would become Nasa). Their work underpinned some of the biggest advances in aeronautics, during some of the most defining moments of the 20th century – the second world war, the cold war, the space race, the civil rights movement, and the adoption of electronic computing.

While some of this generation of female black scientists were recognised – in 2015, Katherine Johnson was awarded the US’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential medal of freedom for her work, which included calculations that helped the moon landing – the fact that there was a crack team of all-female, all-black maths whizzes is largely unknown. “For a long time, African Americans were not allowed to read and write,” says Lee Shetterly. “We forget but it was not that long ago. Women were barred from studying at many colleges. If you are not able to read and write, then you are not going to be able to tell your own story. There haven’t been critical masses of women, minorities, whatever, and I think that’s something that is changing now.”

Lee Shetterly’s book, and the story of how a group of African American women – transcending racism and sexism to embark on some of the most important scientific work in the world at the time – has been turned into a film, starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji P Henson and Janelle Monae. Henson plays the brilliant mathematician Johnson. It was the real Johnson, now in her nineties and whom Lee Shetterly knew, who first told her about Dorothy Vaughan (played by Spencer).

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Hidden Figures | Official Trailer

Watch the new trailer for #HiddenFigures, based on the incredible untold true story. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer & Janelle Monáe. In theaters this January.

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

In Theaters - January 13, 2017

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell