Hidden figures is a 2016 movie that brought me waves of emotions as I watched the movie, especially as a young African lady. The first couple of scenes in the movie introduced Katherine, a young girl with extraordinary mathematical skills. People had high hopes on her, even as an audience I thought the next scene would show her in an esteemed office doing great and being recognized for her excellent skill. Unexpectedly, we saw our previously African-American genius girl among two other black-women (Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan) who happened to be her friends, they were dressed for work but were battling to restart the car that will convey them to work.
Every scene in this movie strongly depicts GENDER DISCRIMINATION and RACIAL SEGREGATION. One of the many evidences of gender discrimination in Hidden figures was the conversation that occurred between Mary Jackson and her male supervisor who believed in her and challenged her to go further for engineering course in the university to be an Engineer rather than being just a human computer.
She said “I am a Negro woman, I’m not gonna entertain the impossible while the male white boss replied “And I am Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison camp, now I am standing beneath a spaceship that is going to carry an astronaut to the star. I think I can say we are living the impossible. Let me ask you, if you were a white male would you wish to be an engineer?”
Mary Jackson replied “I wouldn’t have to; I would already be one”. This is just a succinct highlight of both racial and gender discrimination that occurred in that part of the world then, but can we outrightly say our present world has overcome this discrimination?
Mary Jackson had to challenge her rights as a colored woman to be able to attend engineering classes in an all-white school and she was granted this in a court. You need to see the ridiculously surprised faces when Mary Jackson entered the all-white male engineering classroom and introduced herself as a student. The male lecturer replied “The curriculum is not designed for teaching women”. (my people as in, what rubbish curriculum is he talking about?🙄)
Another thing to be noted in this movie is the way females’ character and competence are easily questioned even when they are doing well, it’s like the society just always have a question mark to female abilities, this can be seen when her boss asked Katherine “Are you a Russian spy?” after they clearly noticed Katherine genius abilities.
Katherine kept challenging the status quo of women cannot or blacks cannot and her competence rigorously paving the way for her with clear instance of her supervisor’s words when he said “She is a woman and there are no protocols for a woman to be in that room”. Eventually, NASA’s overall boss who had identified Katherine’s exceptional skill allowed Katherine to attend the supposed male-only meeting and Katherine left the meeting as a genius that she was when she proved her competence in the meeting. Truth is, no matter how unfavourable the situation may be, competence will always give way for recognition.
Now, if you are talking about girl power💪 some scene in this movie will make you brim with smile especially with the way Dorothy spoke for her junior colleagues as being relevant and needed in the upgrade of assignments. I realized there has always being this talk that If you are called to the door of opportunities, be the waymaker for others to come in, that’s exactly what Dorothy did for her junior colleagues. I was elated watching over 20 black females thronged in to take higher stake in a previously white male department.
The common factor among these women is confidence, good CONFIDENCE.
Racial discrimination can be seen when Dorothy was denied of her promotion as a supervisor because she was black but she kept asking for it while the height of gender discrimination was when NASA heightened the requirements to qualify for being an engineer because Mary Jackson dared to go further to take on engineering courses to be an engineer. They attempted to make her pursuit impossible and frustrated her ways but the woman kept at it, even filed a case in court before she was granted to do her engineering course in a White-only college.
Even when Dorothy Vaughan, a black woman went to the library with her sons the white female library attendant told her “We don’t want any trouble here” and the security officer was called on Dorothy and her two sons who had done no wrong than coming to the public library to read. There was racial segregation everywhere, in the bus, parks, workplace etc.
Our main character, Katherine who as a result of her exceptional calculating skills also worked as a human computer in NAS was promoted to work directly with the NASA boss as his computer because they needed to deal with a lot of calculations accurately while the boss oversees his genius think-tank as they tirelessly worked to get American Astronaut on to space. Meanwhile, Katherine happened to be the first black in her new department so there was no restroom for her use and this made her run a mile to her previously black quarters department before she could use the restroom.
Another theme in this movie is FRIENDSHIP. The friendship between Katherine, Dorothy and Mary Jackson was an adorable one. How they waited late for Katherine to finish her work in the new department in order to go home together was sweet😍. They encouraged one another, even to the extent of encouraging their friend Katherine to get hooked up with a man.
Team work also appeared as a theme in this movie Hidden Figure when the overall NASA boss told Katherine’s supervisor, Paul Strawford “you know what your job is Paul? Find a genius among these geniuses to pick us all up. We all get to the peak together or we don’t get there at all.” This boss recognized Katherine as an exceptional genius working under a supervisor who feels threatened by Katherine’s skills. So, he wisely made that charge. This fostered a turn around that Paul allowed Katherine to freely explore her genius abilities and she didn’t struggle in reporting that Paul was the brain behind the good results even though she was the brain.
Personal Development is also a theme here. Dorothy is our example of a woman who understood that times will change and required skills will change so she recognized the need to upgrade her knowledge. This helped her to find relevance when the times eventually changed.
Through the diverse hurdles of racial and gender discrimination, the movie was a successful ending for everyone and even the white counterparts learnt to be better while Mary- Jackson became NASA and American’s first female African’ American aeronautical engineer, Dorothy Vaughan became NASA’s first African-American Supervisor and regarded as one of the most brilliant minds. Katherine went on to join NASA’s on different missions with Space Task Group and she served excellently that she received honours.
These 3 women are historically Hidden Figures and forever their names will be in the record of time. Hope you enjoyed and gleaned some lessons from this movie review because I did and even as a young Nigerian lady, I can relate with some of the challenges of our historic Hidden Figures. Can you also relate too? Please share with us in the comment section, thank you.
Have a great week ahead. Je t’aime mon ami 😘😘😘