“Hidden Figures” (2016) is a movie based on the true story of some brilliant and committed women whose work was crucial for NASA during the 1960s.
During those years, the race for space against the Russian enhanced the investment of a massive amount of money and manpower, besides fostering a great patriotism. Unfortunately, disparity, injustice and discrimination against coloured people was deeply rooted in the citizens’ minds. In this hostile setting of segregated work spaces, a group of talented mathematicians composed by African American women forced the ultra-conservative people running NASA to challenge and finally break their racist misconceptions.
The story focuses on three outstanding members of the group. The first one, Catherine Goble, is chosen to work on getting John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, to fly in space and come back safely. She thus finds herself to calculate by hand complex rocket trajectories with a large amount of changing data, in a hostile work environment composed of mostly white men. Her work is essential and indispensable for the success of the mission.
The second, Mary Jackson, is instead chosen to work on the Mercury capsule prototype thanks to her engineering skills. However, the only way for her to become a true engineer is by challenging a segregated college in court, in order to get her degree. She is then allowed to attend night classes while she is working at NASA, becoming the first NASA’s black female engineer.
The third and last woman, Dorothy Vaughn plays the role of supervisor for the computing group for several months, but without being recognised for this extra work at first. When the first IBM computer is installed at NASA, she understands that it will soon make the group’s human computing job obsolete. For this reason, she not only learns who to program the IBM herself, but she also teaches the other women. In this way, all of them are re-assigned to the new IBM department and there she finally becomes the first NASA’s African American female supervisor.
Shocking on one hand in its depiction of the history of racism and utterly cathartic and inspiring on the other, this movie is perfect for those moments in which everything seems to go against us, as a reminder that we can overcome everything if we work hard, seemingly to those women. If you look for a source of inspiration and determination, this movie is perfect for you.