Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Hidden Figures from writer Margot Lee Shetterly tells the inspiring and inconvenient story of the black women, also human computers, who helped win World War II and helped NASA get people into space and onto the moon. Most of the stories focus on the Langley Research Station in Virginia during the 1960s, where many of these women worked. Their contribution is not publicly known. That might change with a movie staring Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner on the way.
Shetterly grew up in nearby Hampton, Virginia, and personally knew many of the women in this story. She is also the founder of The Human Computer Project, which documents the accounts of women in computing. Many of the stories in Hidden Figures are not only about accomplishments, but also about unequal treatment and glass ceilings. Times have not completely changed for these women. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon and said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he was also standing on their shoulders. Some, though, thought that we should be helping the impoverished instead. The book does focus on the experience of these woman, but there might have been stories about other groups to put their story in a wider context.
Margot Lee Shetterly