Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures tells the incredible (previously) untold story of three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA. Through their pioneering work, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were, in fact, the brains behind John Glenn’s orbit into space.
Since the Christmas Day release of this film, you may have been asking yourself: How can such remarkable contributions made by women in the fields of science and space exploration be forgotten by history? How are we supposed to tell our daughters and granddaughters that they can be anything they want to be, that there are no limits in what they can accomplish, when our own nation’s narrative fails to acknowledge the work of these remarkable female scientists and engineers?
When retired mathematician Johnson, 98, the only surviving employee of the three, made her appearance at this Sunday night’s Oscars, it was one of the most moving moments of the awards ceremony. Introduced as a “true NASA and American hero,” she sat in her wheelchair, alongside the lead actresses of the film, while the crowd erupting in a stand ovation. She simply responded, “Thank you very much.”
You’re welcome, Katherine. We are all just so sorry that this acknowledgement is long overdue.
Rocket ships don’t launch themselves, and they don’t take off from the merits of men alone. The year is 2017, right? It’s about time we demanded that the overlooked achievements made by the women of NASA be celebrated. We need to provide these role models for all the little girls out there who dream big.
Thankfully, LEGO agrees.
This holiday season, a new LEGO set called ‘Women of NASA’ will be hitting shelves. The exciting news was announced yesterday, congratulating science editor and writer, Maia Weinstock, came up with the idea for the project. The deputy editor of MIT News pitched this set as part of the LEGO IDEAS series which allows fans to propose new set concepts.
Weinstock reveals that she was inspired to create the set “to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women.” In this case, “those [women] who’ve made a big impact through their work at NASA.”
The set will feature five notable Women of NASA including Sally Ride (the first American woman in space), Nancy Grace Roman (known as the “mother” of the Hubble Space Telescope), Mae Jemison (the first African-American woman in space), Margaret Hamilton and Katherine Johnson (whose work helped put the first people on the moon).
Haven’t heard of those other four women of NASA before now? Nope, neither have I. We have a long way to go in our own race for recognition, ladies. That’s why I think I speak for all women, and mothers, when I (in turn) say to LEGO, Thank you.
Thank you for paying tribute to the great minds who contributed to our milestones in space, thank you for making certain that history will never again forget the leaps and bounds these women have made in their respective fields, and thank you for giving us all another reason to tell fellow women in our life to never stop shooting for the stars.