The Importance of Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2017. It uncovers the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, who all worked for NASA, and were instrumental in the launch of John Glenn into orbit. Not only is this movie entertaining, but it is also critical in understanding the role that women play in STEM fields.
Often times, the contributions that women make to history are overlooked, especially the achievements of minority women. As soon as this movie came out, there was shock that a story like this was actually true, and it makes you wonder what other similar stories have yet to be uncovered. Hidden Figures informs girls that they do have a place in fields such as engineering and mathematics because it provides them with three strong women to look up to.
One of the reasons that there are less women in STEM fields is because girls don’t know of many successful women that have those jobs. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of women who are very successful in those professions, but their stories are often overlooked. This movie is inspiring because it shows how minority women were able to overcome adversity and the challenges of racism, in order to be successful, and to pursue their ambitions. That message has the power to resonate with lots of girls, especially young girls, and can give them the motivation to pursue their goals, even if they’re not in the context of mathematics.
Hidden Figures also shows how women often had to juggle their homelife and their professional life, which was something that men didn’t have to do. Katherine Johnson had two children, and throughout the movie you see how she has to balance taking care of her children. During the 20th century, this was a prevalent issue, and it is something that is improving today, but is still a problem.
The film also depicts how segregation impacted the workspace. Katherine Johnson had to spend 45 minutes each day going to and from the bathroom because there wasn't one that she could use in the building she worked in. Because of this, she wasn't able to spend as much time working, and her coworkers thought that she was just taking breaks. The film captures the way that racism affected every corner of their lives.
For these reasons, everyone should watch Hidden Figures. Not only does it provide an inspiring story of three mathematicians, but it also allows you to reflect on how gender roles have shifted over time.