The about a historical struggle of three African American

The movie Hidden Figures was a
powerful movie about women who were in NASA and were fighting to put forth
their efforts in saving the Space Program. This movie portrayed a strong
message about a historical struggle of three African American women who faced
discrimination working in the West Computing Group of NASA in the 1960s. The
protagonists, Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson did
calculations for the engineers’ experiments by hand instead of using a
calculator. They were undermined for their skills because their superiors
rejected to acknowledge them as engineers or mathematicians even though they
performed all of the calculations necessary before the use of machinery. Instead,
they were dehumanized by the title of “computers” given to them by the white
administration. This movie took place during a time where there was still
segregation through the Jim Crow laws. The women amongst other African
Americans were kept at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and experienced many
varying degrees of prejudices. There was day-to-day segregation and sexism that
happened in the 1960s that was considered normal. During this time, President
John F. Kennedy said that “any problem that is man-made, has a man-made
solution”. Hidden Figures exemplified
that saving the Space program was substantial enough for removing the
prejudices that these women encountered. In efforts to save the Space Program,
social, administrative, and personal prejudices were overcome through
simultaneous act of teleological and deontological reasoning.
            In particular, some of the
social prejudices that these three women encountered were racism and sexism.
For example, Katherine Goble dealt with racism when working in in the East
Computing Group amongst all the white males where she had to drink from a coffee
pot designated only for colored workers. It is proof that the people of NASA
were narrow-minded and were not going to let this “colored computer” go
unnoticed of her appearance or her presence in the current work environment
where she was not treated as an equal. Another racist issue that was common
within this facility was separation of bathrooms that made it difficult for
people like Katherine to go as she pleased. Her only option was to use the West
Computing Group bathroom that was half a mile away which took her time away
from completing her work. This was a daily inconvenience that was unnecessary
and time consuming. When she was confronted by Mr. Harrison, she expressed her
aggravation and the injustice that the people of her race faced every day. As a
result, Mr. Harrison realized the effect that this type of prejudice can have
on individuals who are hardworking and trying to make it under these
restrictions. Both of these instances were the types of segregation that needed
to be removed to allow women to contribute to the Space Program and be
accepted. There was also sexism prevalent at NASA that all of the African
American women had to face. For instance, Katherine Goble asked to join a
high-level briefing to understand better for her calculations, but a white male
engineer rushed to shut down the idea. He said, “There’s no protocol for women
attending.” The white male engineer’s response to her efforts undermined her
significance as a female. This exemplifies sexism because the male engineer
wanted to demote her, let it be known that women are not held to the same level
as men and should not attend the briefing. Not recognizing her worth as a
mathematician for the sake of the Space Program and only as another woman shows
the nonexistent standards that the male engineer is trying to create to stop
her from succeeding. This prejudice is then overcome when Mr. Harrison allowed
her to attend the briefings and play her part in the process. Speaking up when
necessary and doing the work were essential strategies for the colored women
working at NASA when dealing with these prejudices. Katherine Goble experienced
racism and social prejudices that were overcome later on when Mr. Harrison
removed the labels. At this particular time, NASA suspended some of its racist
and sexist behavior. Therefore, for women of color in the Jim Crow era it was a
double jeopardy dealing with race and gender in the workplace.
            Furthermore, there were many
personal and administrative prejudices that added to the struggles of colored
women at NASA. A personal prejudice that is represented in this movie was an
instance where one of the white women that worked in the East Computing Group,
Mrs. Mitchell, had to recruit another human “computer” from the West
Computing Group (specifically colored women) to help with the calculations.
Mrs. Mitchell said, “Didn’t think I’d come all the way down here.”
This indicates the fact that she does not think of the colored women as the
equals that they deserve to be viewed as to conquer the prejudices for the
success of the Space Program. With these personal differences put aside, the
contributions as a tolerant group would be more prosperous. Hidden Figures depicts administrative
prejudice when Mr. Harrison constantly gave Katherine stacks of work to do
knowing that she was incapable of providing an accurate completion of the work
without updated information described in the meetings. Mr. Harrison did not
include her specifically in the briefings, even though that could have helped
her catch up with the information needed for the calculations. This instance
demonstrated prejudice because he excluded Katherine on the basis that she is a
woman and African American. The prejudices would eventually be overcome through
her inclusion in the briefings. In order to be successful, there was a need for
Katherine’s help and a national prejudice needed to be overlooked to achieve
NASA’s utmost goal.


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