By Christine Roa
Naturally, as a Physics/Engineering major here at NDMU, I was extremely delighted to have had the opportunity to view “Hidden Figures” for free at Baltimore’s very own Senator Theatre (courtesy of Professor Alice Lilly). The movie did not disappoint and unsurprisingly, I may have even shed a tear or two.
At its core, “Hidden Figures” is a riveting tale of empowerment. Based on “untold” true stories, it follows three black female mathematicians in the 1960s: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). As trailblazers, these three incredibly brilliant women served as the brains behind the scenes during several missions of the space race. Set on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, the film also delves into the struggles and discrimination they faced as African-Americans living in a segregated America. Breaking both gender and racial boundaries, these three women demonstrate the importance of both inclusion and diversity.
What makes the message of this film even more powerful is the fact that it remains relevant today. Based on a 2015 study conducted by the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, women of color not only face a disproportionate amount of gender bias in the workplace, but also experience more cases of racial stereotyping. Additionally, 76.9% of black women involved in the sciences reported that they had to “prove” their competency to their colleagues. This percentage is alarmingly higher than any other racial group from the study.
Films such as “Hidden Figures” are, therefore, incredibly important because not only do they inspire women—especially women of color—to fervently pursue their dreams in a field in which they are severely underrepresented, but also celebrate the remarkable contributions of those who have been obscured by history.
It is understood that for those who have not already done so, I highly encourage you to go watch the film!