Finding Hidden Figures

Friday, January 6, 2017

On January 6, 2017, “Hidden Figures” opens in movie theaters nationwide. This highly anticipated film brings to light the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — three Black women mathematicians who charted the course that launched Astronaut John Glenn into orbit during the Space Race in the 1950s.

The National Center for Women in IT (NCWIT) has published suggestions and resources for engaging with the movie, which we would like to share:

Films like “Hidden Figures” are significant for several reasons, and we urge you to see “Hidden Figures” on opening weekend — January 6, 2017:
  1. We can celebrate the stories of Black women in tech that have not been widely shared or are often overlooked.

  2. We can appreciate actors who serve as technical role models for girls and women while disrupting the stereotypes of female ingenuity in computing.

  3. We can recognize that we have not yet achieved equity in computing. For example, in 2015, only three percent of the computing workforce were Black women. But, with inspiration and change-leading work, we can narrow the gap for women in tech. 

Show your support for diversifying media portrayals of technical women by attending opening weekend: 
  • Bring your like-minded peers, family, and friends with you! Purchase multiple tickets in advance, or use group sales to book a screening for 20-25 people or more. (The process varies from theater to theater and by the amount of people in your group. Get started here.)

  • Use this Challenge Checklist for ways to make a scene at the box office, to get social, and to create awareness beyond the screen.

  • Tell NCWIT what was most memorable. Answer one or more questions about your movie-viewing experience, and NCWIT will blog the most inspirational responses:
By contributing to the movie’s financial success, the media industry will recognize the need to feature the countless, amazing stories of women in computing and that there are large audiences waiting to see them.

Related Resources

  • All Women Includes ALL Women: The Importance of Multiple Approaches to Intersectionality

    At NCWIT, their mission is to increase the meaningful representation of all women in the field of computing. Because there are no easy answers and because the various strategies have different advantages and disadvantages, they believe that it is important for NCWIT to take multiple approaches in attending to intersectionality and to addressing the concerns of all women. And, they encourage and offer practical recommendations for change leaders to consider intersectionality in all of their outreach and reform efforts.

    Read the full blog.
  • Use NCWIT resources to introduce computing to a diverse range of girls and young women in engaging ways — in the classroom and at home. Explore researched-based, practical tips for building confidence in students, creating more inclusive environments, discovering pathways to a career in technology, and more.

  • Read the book behind the movie -- “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly, a keynote speaker for the upcoming 2017 NCWIT Summit.