Finding Hidden Figures

On January 6, 2017, “Hidden Figures” opened in movie theaters nationwide, and now, it's been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture! 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.

Films like “Hidden Figures” are significant for several reasons, and we urge you to see “Hidden Figures” in theaters:

  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 a theater (and not waiting on your streaming queue): 

  • 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 us 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

  • 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.